Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Specialty Bookstores in San Francisco

by Cyndy Ainsworth

Builders Booksource (300 Deharo St. at 16th St., San Francisco, 575-3980; 900 North Point at Larkin, San Francisco, 440-5773; and 1817 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-845-6874) offers books of interest to both the general consumer and people in the building trades, with books on architecture, interior design, construction, home repair, and gardening. They've also got a PC where you can try out some of the most popular home and garden software programs. Richard Hilkert Bookseller (333 Hayes St. between Franklin and Gough, 415/863-3339) specializes in interior design and architecture but also has cookbooks, books on gardening, and children's books. William K. Stout Architectural Books (804 Montgomery St. at Jackson, 415/391-6757) is a wonderful place to browse, with over 10,000 books, magazines and manuscripts on architecture, architects, buildings, interior design, and more; they also have an exceptionally knowledgeable staff. Strybing Botanical Bookstore (9th Ave. and Lincoln Way, 415/661-5191) at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park manages to squeeze a good selection of gardening books, botanical posters and cards into what's probably the city's smallest bookstore.


When you're looking for travel information, Rand McNally (595 Market St. at 2nd, 415/777-3131) has an excellent selection of maps and guidebooks, travel CDs, globes, and travel accessories. Thomas Bros. Maps (550 Jackson St. near Columbus, 415/981-7520) is also a good source for maps and guidebooks. The Sierra Club Bookstore (730 Polk St. between Ellis and Willow, 415/923-5600) stocks travel books, field guides and books on nature and the environment plus Sierra Clubs cards and calendars, and the National Park Store (Fisherman's Wharf, 415/433-7221) at Pier 39 has a good selection of books on national parks, native Americans and the West.

Museum Bookstores

Museum gift shops often stock books on subjects related to their exhibits, so it's not surprising to find good books on natural history in the gift shop at the California Academy of Sciences (Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, 415/750-7330); on science at the Exploratorium Store (3691 Lyon St. at Palace of Fine Arts, 415/561-0390); on fine arts at the shops at the De Young Museum (Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, 415/750-3638), the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (Lincoln Park, 415/750-3600) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 3rd St. near Mission, 415/357-4035); on Latino art and culture at La Tienda (Building D, Fort Mason, 415/202-9700), the Mexican Museum gift shop; and on photography at the Ansel Adams Center for Photography Bookstore (250 Fourth St. between Folsom and Howard, 415/ 495-7242). You'll also find books on sailing and maritime history at the Maritime Store (Hyde St. Pier, 415/775-2665), part of the National Maritime Museum.


A Different Light gay and lesbian literature (489 Castro St., San Francisco, 415/431-0981)

Charlotte's Web: children's books plus some games and toys (2278 Union St. between Fillmore and Steiner, 415/441-4700)

European Book Company : books and magazines in French, German and Spanish plus a wide range of language dictionaries (925 Larkin St. between Geary and Post, 415/474-0626)

Fantasy Etc.: mostly new, mostly paperback science fiction, fantasy, mystery and adventure novels (808 Larkin St. between Geary and O'Farrell, 415/441-7617)

Fields Book Store: books on metaphysics, philosophy, mysticism, and healing (1419 Polk St. between California and Pine, 415/673-2027)

Harris Books: Buddhist books, poetry, ecology and a small selection of fiction; carries all City Lights titles plus books from Black Sparrow Press (211 Steiner St. at Waller, 415/626-6733)

Kinokuniya: beautiful books on Japanese history, culture and cuisine in both English and Japanese (1581 Webster St. in Japan Center, 415/567-7625)

Limelight Film and Theatre Bookstore: books on theater, film and the performing arts (1803 Market St. at McCoppin, 415/864-2265)

Marcus Books: books by and about blacks, plus cards and periodicals. Marcus Books has stores in both San Francisco and Oakland. (1712 Fillmore St., 415/346-4222 and 3900 Martin Luther King Way between 39th and 40th, Oakland, 510/652-2344)

Modern Times Bookstore: literature, politics, and culture with a definite leftist bent. In keeping with its Mission District location, the store has many books from Latin America in both English and Spanish. It's also a good place for literary journals and multi-cultural children's books. (888 Valencia St. near 20th, 415/282-9246)

Old Wives' Tales: books and periodicals on women's issues. (1009 Valencia St., 415/821-4675)

San Francisco Mystery Book Store: new and used mystery and detective fiction. (746 Diamond St. at 24th, 415/282-7444)

We sometimes forget that bookstores at local colleges and universities are open to the public, but the Golden Gate University Bookstore (30 Jessie St. between 1st and 2nd, 415/442-7277) is worth seeking out if you're looking for books on law, technology, and business management, and the UCSF Millberry Union Bookstore (UCSF, 500 Parnassus Ave., 415/476-1666) is especially good for books on health science.

Lastly, the US Government Bookstore (303 2nd St. , 415/512-2770) is the place to buy books and pamphlets published by various government agencies. It's only open 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, but if you need a copy of Federal regulations or a telephone directory for the Department of Commerce or a copy of the CIA World Factbook with capsule descriptions and statistics for countries around the world, this is the place to go. You can also get publications on nutrition, national parks and monuments, running a business, and much more.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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