Don’t get us wrong; there’s an enormous amount of weight to the argument for digital content.
You are, in fact, reading this on a screen at this moment, either from your desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet. That’s the beauty of it – it’s instant, requires no ink, and cuts down no trees (if we’re leaving out the time, energy and resources required to make your device). You can carry a trillion books or whatever it is these days in one thin, light portable little machine. Gone are the days of slugging 45 extra pounds around in your carry-on because you can’t decide between Plath, Murakami, or the Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe.
However, if you were born before 2000, odds are you understand the magic of the tangible page. The thickness, the texture, and the visual satisfaction are unparalleled.
If you’re still the type of person compelled by the books you’ve read, and have yet to read, calling you from your shelves, we implore you to spend some time in the inspiring bookshops of Hayes Valley.
Bibliohead Bookstore, 334 Gough
Owned by Melissa Richmond, this shop has been open eight years. It calls to you from the street, with carts of used books out on the sidewalk whispering, “Come on in, see what you can find.”
Bibliohead makes us want to take our sweet time. The shelves stand eight rows high, literally towering over us with aisles and aisles and aisles of books filling every nook and cranny.
The staff scouts their inventory through every possible avenue, and they carry both used and new items. The fiction section is enormous, but they also have an extensive selection of Art, History, and collectibles.
A few highlights include the fitting handwritten cardboard section dividers, the glass case of only William S. Burroughs, the collection of vintage children’s books, a poem dispenser, and books displayed on old wine boxes.
This shop feels like home. It reminds us of the enchantment we lost in the mega ultra super bargain bookstores of the last 15 years. If you thought the captivating quality of your favorite childhood bookshop was gone, you are wrong. You can find it here at Bibliohead.
Green Arcade, 1680 Market
SF Weekly named Patrick Mark’s intellectual darling ‘Best New Bookstore’ in 2010. Walking through it is like writing your bucket list. Every item on the tables and shelves reminds you of how much more you want to experience in life. The design is clean, colorful, and completely wonderful. The inventory is carefully selected, with absolutely no filler whatsoever. The wide variety of interests covered here seems to be cherry-picked for the openminded and culture-hungry individuals that San Francisco prides itself on attracting.
Some of the spotlighted subjects include San Francisco and California specific history, geography, and outdoor activities; living practically and environmentally conscious; gay and lesbian focuses; and food. A killer jukebox lets you browse through Edith Piaf, Count Basie, The Drifters, and Cher among many, many others. Books aside, the shops hosts several other items of interest, including journals, stainless steel water bottles, and cards that are anything but run-of-the-mill.
Don’t forget the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library is just east of City Hall, and keep an eye out for upcoming spotlights on other local businesses that fight the digital takeover, like Grooves and Isotope Comics. Let us know what other H.V. establishments trip your trigger, and deserve some extra attention!