Wednesday, August 17, 2011

San Francisco Bookstores —Book Passage, for Ferry Travelers and Tourists on the Embarcadero

This is the seventh in a series of short articles on independent San Francisco bookstores. While their numbers are dwindling, there are still many colorful, one-of-a-kind bookstores in various colorful, one-of-a-kind San Francisco neighborhoods.

It’s the kind of bookstore you’d expect to find on the concourse of a busy airport. If this sounds negative, it’s not meant to be. Clean, well organized, busy, Book Passage at San Francisco’s Ferry Building has a similar clientele — tourists and commuters as well as a splash of locals who come down because getting there is easy and, depending on the time of day and day of the week, there is a major Farmer’s Market under way.

What you’ll find in the store are the standard bestsellers and other popular books on a variety of subjects. The environment feels commercial — and no doubt it is. Book buyers are likely to be daily commuters from the East or North Bay, picking up something to read on the ferry, tourists buying something for the plane and San Franciscans who have come to the spectacularly restored building to shop or dine who can’t resist the urge to browse book shelves.

The Ferry Building, a grand historic landmark. houses gourmet everything — from chocolate to mushrooms. There are bakeries, a wine shop and bar, teahouse, specialized meats, cheese and gelato. There are restaurants — A Japanese deli, a high-end, world-renowned Vietnamese restaurant, a great oyster bar, as well as places to dine outside under umbrellas with views of the elegantly unfolding Embarcadero or in the back with views of the Bay.

In this sense Book Passage is the “neighborhood” bookstore, meeting the needs of its readers. What one might miss is a sense of the bookstore being an escape from the outside world. It should also be noted that the Ferry Building Book Passage is owned and operated by one of the premiere bookstores in Northern California. The flagship store in Corte Madera is famous for it’s comprehensive collection of books, its popular author events and highly respected writer workshops.

One Ferry Building, (415) 835-1020,

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