SF Bookstore

May 2nd, 2002, 01:43 PM
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SF Bookstore

Haven't been to SF for a long, long time so bear with me. On Powell St., just up from Market past Woolworth (see what I mean) there was a restaurant that featured $3.95 steak dinners (like I said...) Close by there was a small bookstore. It it still there or long gone?
May 2nd, 2002, 01:56 PM
Owen O'Neill
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Obviously not the one you seek but I stumble onto a great bookstore when in SF recently. They specialize in paperback books from the 40's through the 70's (particularly pulp fiction) but also have an amazing, ecelectic and esoteric collection of books on subjects rangin from art to architecture to philosophy et al. Check them out at www.kayobooks.com They're on Post Street but can't recall what intersection is near.
May 2nd, 2002, 02:09 PM
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Woolworth is gone for at least 7 years. The whole block on Powell on that side has new stores - from Urban Outfitters to Gap. A huge new bookstore is opened on the corner of Union Square - Powell @ Post i think... "Borders" is the name of this store.
May 2nd, 2002, 02:23 PM
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Books Inc is gone from that location but you can find their new store on Market St just below Castro.
May 2nd, 2002, 02:47 PM
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Mel ...Could you possibly be thinking of Tro Harper? It was a great book store, that was on Powell years ago. It was a large book store though. It is long gone now.

Books Inc. which used to have a branch on Powell, was not a small store either. They also have other stores on California St., Folsom St. and the airport, and Castro St. as mentioned above.

In my 'leaner" days, both financially and physically, that $3.95 steak house served some fairly decent meals at a good price.
May 3rd, 2002, 01:25 PM
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Thanks everyone. Can't remember the name of the place, just that I enjoyed shopping there. I despise cookie-cutter chain and mega stores and try to patronize local stores only, but it seems they're all disappearing. Sad.
May 3rd, 2002, 01:56 PM
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Mel: Where are you from & are there any non-chain bookstores in your area? (My husband & you could be brothers - same likes/dislikes.)
May 3rd, 2002, 02:43 PM
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Hello Mel,
Having grown up in S.F., I do remember the businesses that were on Powell Street that exist no longer. Believe you are thinking of either Tro Harper or Books Inc. Great stores, I spent plenty of time and money in them! There's a Borders branch on Post and Powell now - it was novel when it opened, but now it's just a place for me to kill time looking at magazines when I'm early for an appointment. If you want a small, non-chain bookstore in downtown S.F., try Rizzoli Books at 117 Post (same block as Gumps - that is - the NEW location for Gumps).
If you remember the steak place, do you recall the Swedish Bakery on Powell Street? That was where I had my introduction to strong coffee, cardamom rolls and marzipan frosting.
May 5th, 2002, 09:40 AM
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We love our idependent book stores. Here is a sampling:

City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco

A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books
601 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco

Cody's Books
2454 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
1730 Fourth Street,
Berkeley, CA 94710

Books Inc.
3515 California Street
2251 Chestnut Street
2275 Market Street
San Francisco

Any many more. I hope this is helpful.

Here is a link for San Francisco independent bookstores:
May 7th, 2002, 05:38 AM
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Do any of these bookstores specialize in mysteries??
May 7th, 2002, 06:24 AM
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What exactly is your problem with chain bookstores, or any other chain for that matter? Chain stores always have a better selection than small independent stores and at a better price. I think SF people have to be realistic about this. Even in New York City you have Barnes and Noble and Starbucks on almost every other street corner and City dwellers flock to these places. If they only depended on business from visitors, they would be out of business. Chains are a part of American culture and a fabric of every major city. Don't you go to McDonald's for a burger and Macy's or Nordstrom for clothes? There would be no way for us to survive without chain establishments. Long live Barnes and Noble!
May 7th, 2002, 08:55 AM
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Joe, I disagree that chains have a better selection than small independent bookstores. My personal experience with Borders is that I have gone in there three different occasions with a book in mind and couldn't find it. Often it was a lesser known book by a recently popular author. One example I can think of was a book by Nick Hornby, who wrote High Fidelity. They had loads of copies of High Fidelity but not one of About A Boy, a previous novel of his. At Keplers, my local independent bookstore they had Nick Hornby's entire catalog. Why? Because Borders tries to do it all: books, music, coffee .... It's a huge store but that doesn't mean it has everything! And when I tried to ask for help I was stared at with nothing but blank looks. At Kepler's if you approach the reference desk (yes, they have one)with a question you get enthusiastic help from staff. There's a big difference, in my opinion.
May 7th, 2002, 10:17 AM
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Chains have their place, though I have a hard time figuring out to locate them. I will say that individual stores in a chain can have significant differences in ambiance (Borders in downtown DC vs. Pentagon City, for example.) However, none will beat a good independent bookseller. Nantucket Bookworks is almost, itself, worth the trip over to the island.

The big problem with the independents is their lack of used, rare and out-of-print. If it isn't in print, or recently remaindered, they don't got it. Sure, most of them got access to a search service. So do I. The internet.

That all said, I'm going to put in a shameless plug for the Used Book Lover's Guides, by the Siegels. www.bookhunterpress.com/ Great guides, pretty good evaluations, and a real time-saver if you're traveling and book hunting. A half-dozen years ago, they'd just published their first Pacific Coast guide. And I was in San Francisco, with only one full day to do book shopping (a Saturday.) I discovered from the guide that my time would best be spent in San Rafael. There were a lot of shops there, carrying the kind of inventory I wanted to peruse. I went there and hit, I believe, 8 stores that Saturday. Time well spent.

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