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The Best Still-Standing Independent Bookstores

Photography by Aubrie Pick

When Borders' death knell rang out across the land and Amazon.com announced that e-Books surpassed the sales of hardcovers and paperbacks combined, it seemed like bookstores might be doomed. Our city's independent book shops are proving that wrong. Here's a roundup of our favorite spots to buy new books.

Books Inc.
The West’s oldest independent bookseller, Books Inc. was born in 1946. The Castro outpost features weekly readings from local authors, as well as big names like David Sedaris. 2275 Market St., 415-864-6777.

City Lights
It’s easy to imagine the Beats hanging out in the low-lit basement of City Lights, where the floorboards gently creek and moan beneath shelves of anti-authoritarian literature and poetry. 261 Columbus Ave., 415-362-8193.

Booksmith
The 30-year-old Booksmith is a destination for authors on tour. Check out the whimsical signs from artist Sean Chiki that mark off sections like music, essays, and children’s picture books. 1644 Haight St., 415-863-8688.

Alexander Book Company
Alexander Book Company packs its three stories with best sellers, plus a large selection of art and design books. (Academy of Art University students buy their required reading in the basement.) 50 Second St., 415-495-2992.

Bookshop West Portal
Bookshop West Portal is a hub in this tucked-away ’hood. In addition to carrying new and locally written titles, the store brings residents in for knitting, cartooning, and yoga classes. 80 West Portal Ave., 415-564-8080.