Wednesday, November 23, 2011

San Francisco Bookstores — Putting the "Special" in Specialty Bookstores

This is the last in a series of posts about San Francisco’s bookstores. While their numbers are dwindling, there are still many one-of-a-kind shops in various one-of-a-kind San Francisco neighborhoods. Click here for the complete list.

Omnivore Books on Food. Cookbooks, cookbooks and cookbooks. And more — all sorts of books related to food and drink, old and new. Some are autographed. It’s the kind of place you’d expect in a city where chefs are celebrated as much as baseball players and movie stars. And, in fact, the brightly lit store hosts many foodie events — from special food tastings to chef/author events. A check on Yelp, indicates Omnivore gets pretty much five stars from everyone, with special kudos to the owner. If you have a friend who has everything and likes to cook, this might be the right place to shop for gifts.

3885a Cesar Chavez Street, (415) 282-4715,

Chronicle Books is a local publisher of fine books and has three locations in the City where (only) their books are sold. Not to disparage their offerings, however each of the great-looking, well-stocked stores suggests more of a fun gift shop than bookstore — with emphasis on trends in style. In addition to all the pretty books they carry blank journals and stationery. Lots of stuff for kids, and adults with coffee tables in need of adornment. Definitely visiting any one of the three great stores in any one of all three great neighborhoods is worthwhile, especially around gift-giving time.

680 Second Street, (415) 537-4200

1846 Union Street, (415) 345-8435

865 Market Street (Westfield Centre) (415) 369-6271

William Stout Architectural Books on Montgomery carries more than 20,000 books on two floors in San Francisco’s fascinating Jackson Square, an interesting, architecturally rich neighborhood tucked between North Beach and the Financial District. It is also home base for small, but dedicated, architecturally-oriented Stout Publishers. Most of the rare or out-of-print books are at the Berkeley store. However all stores carry a wide range of American and international titles about architecture, old and new, as well as books in all areas of design. Though professionals in these fields may find this not just a pleasant, but necessary resource, anyone interested in design will find the most comprehensive collection of inspiring books on design anywhere in the City. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. Visiting the Montgomery Street story is a quality experience. Highly recommended.

804 Montgomery Street, (415) 391-6757

1605 Solano at Tacoma (Berkeley), (510) 356-4740

678 Mission Street, (415) 357-1860

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