Image of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco

City Lights Bookstore


    (© Flickr user Mclii/cc license)

    (© Flickr user Mclii/cc license)

San Francisco bookstores are famous all over the world. The city has long enjoyed a reputation as being one of the great literary hubs of America, and nowhere is this more evident than in the amount of bookstores strewn throughout the city. Knowing which ones to hit and which ones to pass by can tough, so follow our highly selective guide to the best bookstores in San Francisco.

San Francisco Bookstores: City Lights

261 Columbus Avenue (at Broadway) (415) 362-8193 Official Website: City Lights

World-famous bookseller and publisher is widely known as being ground zero for the beat generation's literary revolution. Founded by writer Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, the shop was the first bookstore in America to sell only paperbacks (this has since changed), and has always been known for its staggering selection of titles on progressive politics, many of which are hard to find in most other bookstores. City Lights also has a vast array of poetry titles, more so than any other bookstore in the city. Be sure to check out the hard-to-see basement, which has music, film, mystery, and children's sections.

Dog Eared Books

900 Valencia Street (at 20th Street) (415) 282-1901 Official Website: Dog Eared Books

Mission District booklovers paradise offers an incredible selection of books-85% of which are used-so if you're looking for that discount copy of "In Cold Blood," chances are you'll luck out here. This is a very comfy, homey bookstore, one you can spend hours in simply browsing and reading without buying anything. The store also sells used CDs and records, calendars and stationary, underground comics, magazines, and zines, and new books in both paperback and hardcover at surplus sale prices. Do you have books you want to get rid of? Bring em into Dog Eared to sell for cash or trade. If you're a pop culture junkie, definitely swing by-the store has a distinct array of titles on the various worlds of movies, music, television, and celebrities great and small.

Green Apple Books & Music

506 Clement Street (at 6th Avenue) (415) 387-2272 Official Website: Green Apple Books

One of the best of San Francisco bookstores, Green Apple lies in the rather inconvenient inner Richmond District neighborhood, but don't let that stop you from walking, running, biking, or busing yourself over here-this overstocked shop literally has mountains of books in both new and used formats, many of which can be found at sale prices (a certain percentage is taken off New York Times bestsellers), or dirt-cheap prices (prices on used books are jotted down on the inside sleeve in pencil). You can unload books, CDs and DVDs (yes, there's a music and movies section here too) you no longer want at Green Apple for either cash or trade, and be sure to check out the incredibly knowledgeable staff's book and CD picks.