Bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley, Oakland, and East Bay)
2 Oct 2013
Mission (and Noe Valley)
North of San Francisco
other geographic areas
[Note 0: These lists were started thirty years ago, before search engines,
Yelp, and so on. Because those are now available, these listings will
include only places that are noteworthy, or have substantive descriptions,
or have been visited by me. Old "minimalist" listings will remain as long
as the stores are open, but no new "minimalist" entries will be added.]
[Note 1: This list contains stores in Berkeley, Oakland, and the East Bay.
San Francisco and north Bay listings can be found in the San Francisco
Peninsula listings can be found in the Peninsula list.
Los Angeles listings can be found in the Los Angeles area list.
San Diego and Hawai`i listings can be found in the San Diego area list.
Sacramento and other California listings (outside of southern California)
can be found in the Northwestern US list. ]
[Note 2: I collected these comments from a variety of people. I personally
have no knowledge of many of these places and take no responsibility if you
buy a book you don't enjoy. :-) Phone numbers and precise addresses can be
gotten by calling directory assistance for the appropriate city. Call ahead
for precise hours, as even when I list them they are subject to change.]
[Note 3: If you can add information for any of these, in particular
addresses when they are missing, please send it to me. *PLEASE SPECIFY CITY
[Note 4: Area codes change so quickly these days that these may be wrong.]
[Note 5: My listings for "superstores" are minimal; those are easy to
find, generally fairly standard, and not worth the time to keep
Berkeley/Oakland (Berkeley unless otherwise noted):
Afikomen (3042 Claremont, 510-655-1977, 510-655-3598). Judaica, including
gift items. Closes before sundown Friday and is closed Saturday.
Anacapa (Claremont, a couple of doors down from Dark Carnival). A fairly
small antiquarian shop specializing in 19th and 20th century art
movements and European literary movements (their pataphysics
selection is one of the best in the States).
Barnes & Noble (Jack London Square, Oakland).
Barnes & Noble (El Cerrito Plaza). [11/09]
Bibliomania (1816 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, 94612, 510-835 5733). A very nice
used bookstore, among the Bay Area's finest. Very attractive--
varnished pine shelves, books arranged alphabetically by author
within each section, dustjackets protected with mylar sleeves.
Fiction, poetry, Californiana, general titles.
Big Bad Book Sale (2349 Shattuck Ave). New books greatly reduced, with very
little order to the chaos.
Black Oak Books (San Pablo Avenue and Dwight Way), 510-486-0698,
http://www.blackoakbooks.com). I think you either love it or hate it.
One reader says, "They have a good mix of new and used and their
used selection includes particularly good mythology/folklore and
cookbook sections. Their women's section is quite good and they
have one of the better humor sections I've run across (e.g.,
that's where I picked up Sally Swain's GREAT HOUSEWIFES OF ART)."
But another claims, "Black Oak Books is all shuck and jive.
Lots of new Politically Correct stuff up front, but slim pickins
for used goods in the back." "Good selection, but very pricey."
Yet another thinks the used selection is not particularly PC
and reasonably priced. Clearly it's one everyone will have to
see and judge for themselves. Moving from their Shattuck
Avenue location in summer 2009. Open 7 days 10AM-10PM. (Also
has a branch in San Francisco.)
Book Zoo (6395 Telegraph Ave, North Oakland, 510-654-2665,
http://bookzoo.net). Used books. "Funky little used
bookstore [run by] mavericks who don't use a cash register or
sell books online and are trusting souls who leave a cart with
sale books out overnight with a slot in the door for payment."
Stock is often unusual, edgy, and radical. Occasional author
events. [This is a different store than that of the same name
in Berkeley a few years ago, but with the same owners.] Open
Thu-Fri 4PM-10PM. Sat-Sun 10AM-10PM. [08/08]
Books Inc. (1760 4th, 517-525-7777). [11/09]
Builder's Booksource (1817 4th, 510-845-6874). Architecture, construction,
landscape architecture, engineering, interior design, etc. From
coffee-table books all the way to the AISC Steel Manual.... Also has
a smaller store in San Francisco.
Cartesian (2445 Dwight Way). Small, good quality, scholarly.
Collected Thoughts Bookstore (1816 Euclid Ave, 94709, 510-843-1816).
New and used books: poetry, science, literature. "The proverbial
little bookstore. Funky place about one block from UC Berkeley on
the Hearst side of campus. Great poetry selection."
Dark Carnival (3086 Claremont, 510-654-READ [510-654-7323]). "An unbelievably
fantastic book store. Simply the best. Nirvana. The volume,
quality, thoughtfulness and variety are overwhelming. Tucked away in
every nook are displays of sub-genres which are impossible to pass by.
Their table and bookcase of signed books beats many stores entire
selections of SF. I've even had recognizable authors serve me from
behind the counter. The store is too large to browse fully in one
visit. Large collection of hardcovers, including some limited
editions. Large non-fiction section. Frequent signings, readings and
parties. Many imports. And much, much more!" [03/05]
Dave's Smoke Shop (2444 Durant, 94704, 510-841-7292). In the indoor shopping
passage between Durant and Channing Way just west of Telegraph; same
mini-mall as Revolution Books). The periodical selection in there
used to be amazing. They even had Pravda (untranslated). However,
they have recently changed ownership and the selection has become
somewhat smaller. Whether this is a permanent change is anyone's
Dharma Publishing Bookstore (2210 Harold Way, 94704, 510-809-1540,
http://www.dharmapublishingbookstore.com/). Meditation, yoga, Buddhist
art & culture, etc.; also gift items. Open Mon-Sat 10AM-6PM. [10/13]
Diesel, A Bookstore (5433 College Ave, Oakland, 94618, 510-653-9965,
http://www.dieselbookstore.com). New and used general,
children's, contemporary fiction, culture studies, "Simply the
best. I used to work with them, and can say from the inside
out that they are great booksellers, with a passion for
providing the best that an independent bookstore can offer:
excellent service, a wide-ranging, intelligent selection, and
a groovy atmosphere - a well designed space for browsing,
shopping and hanging out with books. I definitely recommend
this book store." Has branches in Malibu and Brentwood. Open
Mon-Thu 10AM-9PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 10AM-6PM. [06/12]
Half-Price Books (Shattuck & Addison). "Good used SF selection; they
even have used role-playing books, which I have trouble
finding elsewhere. And I'm especially tempted by the heavily
discounted brand new books they offer. Nice people; great
Liberty Tree (134 98th Ave in Oakland). Not just libertarian but also general
civil liberties and history books.
The Library Bookstore (2433 Channing Way, 510-841-5604). Good bargains and
academic titles. All profits go to support the Berkeley Public
Library. Open Tue-Sat 10AM-4PM.
The Little Book Shop. "One of the best neighborhood stores I've encountered,
it which lives up to its name but has a good mix of new and used books
and excellent customer service."
Mr. Mopps' Children's Bookshop (1405 Martin Luther King Jr. Way)
Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts (2904 College Ave, 94705, 510-704-8222,
FAX 510-704-8228, http://www.mrsdalloways.com). New books. Open
Mon-Wed 10AM-7PM, Thu-Sat 10AM-9PM, Sun 12N-6PM. [11/09]
Moe's (2476 Telegraph between Haste and Dwight, 510-849-2087;
http://www.moesbooks.com). Five floors of mostly used books.
Around since 1959, they are one of the largest bookstores
of their kind. (Their old store can be seen briefly in THE
GRADUATE). More Moe's, located on the fourth floor, is an art
and antiquarian shop. One reader writes, "My favorite bookstore
and probably the best bookstore on the face of this earth. Okay,
okay, that may be an exaggeration (especially since I haven't
been to New York). However, how many used bookstores do you know
that charge 1/2 of the cover price for *all* paperbacks--
including the old 25- or 35-cent paperbacks!" Another says, "In
agreement with all of your readers, I found this store to be
excellent--wide selection, carefully organized and reasonably
priced. The half-price on all paperbacks from any era is a fine,
fine deal. One of the best used bookstores I've ever visited."
(Although another reader calls them "very pricey" on hardbacks.)
Will ship worldwide. [06/07]
North Atlantic Books & Frog, Ltd. Outlet (1435A Fourth, 94710, 510-559-8277
ext 17, FAX 510-559-8279, http://www.northatlanticbooks.com).
Publisher of alternative medicine, martial arts, and
somatics. Shopworn books are available at up to 75% off list
price. Open Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM.
O'Neil Book Co. (1150 Sixth Street, one block north of Gilman, 510-527-9855).
Great selection of remaindered books.
Pegasus Books (1855 Solano, 510-525-6888).
Pendragon Books (5560 College Avenue, Oakland, 510-652-6259). Pegasus and
Pendragon are owned by the same management. Both of them stock
primarily used books, remaindered books and recent releases.
Revolution Bookstore (2425 Channing Way). In a mini-mall between Durant and
Channing Way off Telegraph; underneath building on west side of
Telegraph--the same mall as Dave's Smoke Shop. Angry books about
politics and human right issues. Marxist theory, ecology, media
criticism. Large pictures of Marx, Lenin, and Mao on the wall.
2nd Edition: Gently Read Books (6120 La Salle Ave, Oakland, 94611,
510-339-7315). New and used books. General stock. In Montclair
Shakespeare and Company (2499 Telegraph). Diverse store. "They've got a
wider selection of SF than Moe's, and they seem to have a knack for
aquiring books I've been looking for for years and selling them for
far less than I'd pay elsewhere. On the other hand, many times they
will cover over the original price of a book with a black marker (or
even scratch it out!), which makes my blood boil. I think these are
both sides of the same coin: they don't know much about collectible
Turtle Island Book Shop (3032 Claremont Ave, 94705, 510-655-3413,
FAX 510-655-4238). Used, out of print, and antiquarian books in
literature, poetry, art history, and architecture. Small section of
rare SF titles and some SF pulps from time to time. Open Tues-Sat
University Press Bookstore (across from the intermural athletic
center, 2430 Bancroft Way).
Walden Pond (3316 Grand Avenue between Lake Park and Mandana, Oakland.
Distinct from Waldenbooks, a used and new bookstore. They have a
particularly good selection of international writers (in translation)
and radical literature and magazines.
The Firehouse Bistro & Bookstore (2369 First). DUE TO OPEN MID-SUMMER
2007. It will sell used and books as well as serve food. All
customer credit accounts from Book Oasis (the previous store
at that location) will be honored. [02/07]
Bonanza Books. Used. "One of the two best used book dealers in Walnut
Diablo Books (1831 Ygnacio Valley Rd, 925-943-2400). Used. "One of
the two best used book dealers in Walnut Creek." [08/03]
Easy Going Travel Shop & Bookstore (1617 Locust, 510-947-6660 or
800-675-5500, EASYGO1@aol.com). Specializes in travel books,
including guidebooks, travel literature, natural history and
field guides, overseas employment, outdoor adventure guides,
family travel, gay and lesbian travel, language learning aids,
ethnic and cultural awareness guides. Complete selection of
international maps. Does book searches, has in-store readings
and slides shows. Also supplies luggage and travel accessories.
Hooked on Books (1956 Tice Valley Blvd, Roosmoor Shopping Center,
510-933-1025). Used bookstore that specializes in mysteries and
romance novels as well as having a reasonable SF section.
Barnes & Noble (near where Willow Pass intersects I-680).
Bay Books (1669 Willow Pass Rd, 94520, 925-671-2245, FAX 925-671-0136,
Baybooks2@baybooks2.com; 2415 San Ramon Valley Blvd, San Ramon,
94583, 925-855-1524, FAX 925-855-7341, Baybooks@baybooks.net).
New, used, and antiquarian books. Contra Costa's largest used
Berkshire Books (3480 Clayton Rd, Concord, 94519, 925-685-9999,
email@example.com ). General antiquarian. 19th century British and
American literature, Dickensiana, books About books; children's serial
fiction; Vietnam conflict literature.
Waypoint (1813 Clement Ave #24, 94501, 510-769-1547, FAX 510-769-1573,
firstname.lastname@example.org). For the nautically inclined. Books, charts,
computer navigation software, computers, GPS and more.
Wilmot's (123 Central Ave, 94501).
Gray Wolf Books (was Roskie and Wallace Bookstore) (14595 E 14th,
510-483-4163). "This is a rather unique used book store. The prices
are quite cheap by Bay Area standards, the collection is huge, though
not as organized as some stores. In fact, it's kind of like a cross
between a bookstore and a rummage sale. It's not usually a place to
go looking for something specific, but it's a browser's heaven--you're
guaranteed to find something unique, something you'd never even think
of, let alone find in another bookstore." Another person says, "The
store is huge, with three connected warehouses of books in tall
orange-crate shelves in narrow aisles, with most shelves being stacked
two or three layers deep and not in very good order. Worth visiting
if you aren't picky about condition and enjoy rummaging." Open
Half-Price Books (in the Pacific Commons area of Auto Mall Parkway west
of I-880). Used books. [03/11]
Anecdote from a reader (circa 1995):
"Had an interesting experience last night: I was having dinner at a
friend's house when he asked me if I had access to internet. This was
curious, indeed, as he is probably the most neo-Luddite younger person I
know, resistant to computer technology to the point of keeping business
records on scraps of paper beneath found paperweights and doing business
correspondence via penciled letters.
It turns out that the reason for this sudden interest is that someone
came into his store [which shall remain nameless here] in San Francisco,
and made a stunning $50.00 purchase on the basis of some recommended
bookstore list that you produced and posted on rec.arts.books. A captain
of industry he's not, so fifty big ones made about as big an impression
on him as a major bus wreck ("Don't mention the money," he says of this
message, "it sounds so crass."). Suddenly, this computer thing had
reality to him. He produced a scrap of paper with your net address on
it and requested that I thank you.
I just thought you might get as big a giggle out of this as I did."
Of all the messages people have sent me over the years, this one is
still my favorite.
Information contained in this FAQ is compiled from many sources. The
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Evelyn C. Leeper
Evelyn C. Leeper (email@example.com)
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