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Adobe Books Writes Its Own Future With a New Lease on Life

Photo by Daniel Morris 

An old-fashioned sign on the sidewalk of 24th Street reads, “Adobe Books: In the Mission since 1989.” The statement is an affirmation for store founder Andrew McKinley, who recently opened at his new location after the well-publicized tumult surrounding his longstanding 16th Street address. In spring 2013, when menswear retailer Jack Spade outbid Adobe on its increased rent, the bookstore’s clientele raised $60,000 in a last-ditch effort to save the store. Ironically, Jack Spade was eventually run out of the Mission, but the little bookstore lives on, thanks to the grassroots campaign that laid the framework for an all-new business strategy.

“We needed a nudge,” says McKinley, a longtime Mission resident whose business is thriving under the name Adobe Books & Arts Cooperative, with a new shared ownership model. Now, a dozen or so investors divvy up the labor. The group brought the business into the 21st century—tossing dead titles, clearing out clutter, computerizing inventory, and curating a selection of art prints for sale. And the space also houses rotating exhibits. “We’re selling more books than ever,” says McKinley.

But it’s not enough to be a great seller of books. For more than 20 years, Adobe has been the Mission’s unofficial living room, attracting a diverse crowd and serving as an incubator for ideas. Here, creative minds can still come together for community-building readings, letterpress workshops, and film screenings. As it turns out, the whole brouhaha was a blessing in disguise. 

This article was published in 7x7's December/January issue. Click here to subscribe.