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The Top Independent Bookstores in the Bay Area

Chris Cobb's piece at Adobe Books

This Saturday is the first ever California Bookstore Day, and it's gonna be rad, and not just for bibliophiles. More than 90 independent bookstores across the Golden State are throwing epic events. Headlining attractions include exclusive books you can't get on any other day at any other place, but there will also be readings, prizes, bites, and cocktails, plus famous authors and artists. 

If you can't make it to one of the events, stop by one of these awesome local bookstores to show your support. 

Walden Pond Bookstore

Walden Pond Book Store is a neighborhood gem that's provided Oaklanders with their reading material for over 40 years. About 60 percent of Walden’s more than 100,000 books are used and affordably priced, and the store gladly buys back novels from its customers. The bibliophilic staff is very helpful and can guide you among the teetering piles of fiction, non-fiction, and specialty books to find what you're looking for or make a recommendation. Walden's Pond also maintains a rare book collection in an upstairs storage room that once hosted readings by Isabel Allende and other literary greats. 3316 Grand Ave., Oakland 

City Lights

Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture's only "Literary Landmark." The nation's first all-paperback bookstore, City Lights now offers three floors of both new-release hardcovers and quality paperbacks with an impressive range of titles from smaller, harder-to-find, specialty publishers. It's a completely unique San Francisco experience, and a must for anyone who appreciates good books. 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco 

A Great, Good Place for Books

A clever, book-inspired name isn't all you'll get at this local bookstore. It's a small space, but filled to the brim with books of every genre. Plus, there's a frequent buyer's club, and monthly book clubs, if you like to gush about novels after you read them. Once you'd made your selection, grab a treat at the XOXO truffles store just a few stores up the block. Opt for the hot chocolate and truffles, and snuggle in. 6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland

Green Apple Books

Richard Savoy founded Green Apple Books in 1967 with a stock of used books, comics, and National Geographic magazines. These days, they've modernized with a music and DVD collection as well, but it's hard to find a better-stocked bookstore. Green Apple Books will participate in the festivities this weekend with author appearances, a food truck, and surprises. There are 13 unique books and art pieces set up to make it the party of the year. 506 Clement Street

Pegasus Books 

Founded in 1970 (when it was stocked with newspapers as well as books), Pegasus has become an East Bay staple with locations in both Berkeley and Oakland. Amy Thomas, who bought Pegasus in 1995, has served as the president of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association as well as on the board of the ABA’s American Booksellers For Free Expression. Needless to say, the people here know what they're talking about. Plus, you can sell or trade in your old books. 5560 College Ave., Oakland 

Book Passage

Book Passage has served the Bay Area for more than 30 years, providing the community with an array of author events, writing and language classes, and highly-respected annual conferences. You can see everyone from Presidents and prelates to Nobel Prize-winners and first time novelists speak within their walls, and they average more than 700 author events every year! Book Passage also has a unique program of in-store classes designed for people who want to learn more about writing and the book business, as well as three annual writing classes. And oh yah, there are tons of books, too. 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco 

Borderlands Books

Specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and horror (in fact, that's all they sell) Borderlands has been supplying the nerds of SF with good literature for over a decade. Plus, they have one of the best selections of small-press genre titles in the country with a stock of nearly14,000 titles. No big deal. 534 Laguna Street, San Francisco 

Bay Area Free Book Exchange

There are 10,000 free books just waiting for you in El Cerrito! The Bay Area Free Book Exchange has given away 437,924 books since May 2009, and all books on all of the shelves are free for the taking. They're only open on the weekends, but it's worth the trek to El Cerrito to lead up your car with literary goodies. Take note: there's a limit of 100 books per person per day. 10520 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

Booksmith 

Neighborhood gem, Booksmith is marking the occasion, by taking over the back deck at Sparrow Bar next door. Buy one (or more) of 11 CBD items at Booksmith and get free admission at Sparrow, and a free glass of wine. While you're there, Christian Robinson (Josephine), Lisa Brown (29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy) and Jane Mount (My Ideal Bookshelf), will be on hand to sketch you a custom doodle. 1644 Haight Street 

Adobe Books

Adobe Books, local champion of SF's art scene from the literary to the musical, is back and better than ever after falling on hard times last year when they were forced to move from their long-time Mission home. Stop by to peruse the great selection of books, peek into the back gallery where local artists showcase masterpeices, or just hang out with owner Andrew McKinley. 3130 24th Street