Bay Area Bookstores

Maha Sanad

13 Bay Area bookstores you need to visit


With the rise of technology in the past couple of decades, online shopping has become the new norm. Not only do most people rely on technology for their shopping, but there has also been a shift from reading physical books to reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks.
While ebooks and audiobooks are often more convenient than picking up a physical book, nothing can replace the feeling of reading from a physical book. While shopping for books online can be plenty of fun, there’s a unique and unrivaled atmospheric feeling that visiting your local bookstore provides that is simply impossible to recreate virtually.
There is a modern sentiment that “print books are a dying industry” mainly due to virtual formats of reading becoming more popular. While any format of reading is valid, it’s important to continue to support your local bookstores.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are ever in the mood to go to a physical bookstore, then you’re in luck. Here is a list of some of the coolest bookstores that you need to check out in the East Bay Area, along with a few in the greater Bay Area as well:

Books on B (Hayward)
Starting locally, Books on B is located in downtown Hayward and sells both new and used books. Referred to as “Hayward’s Hometown Bookstore,” Books on B is a smaller store but a go-to if you’re ever in the Hayward area.

Books Inc. (Bay Area)
With 10 locations all around the Bay Area, including Alameda, Berkeley, Palo Alto, and San Francisco, Books Inc. is The West’s Oldest Independent Bookseller.” Books Inc. carries new books but offers a great sale section if you’re on the hunt for new and affordable books.
Moe’s Books (Berkeley)
Located on Telegraph Ave, Moe’s Books is a well-known indie bookstore where you can buy, sell, and trade books. Moe’s Books is a cultural staple and a Berkeley landmark with four floors and enough books to get lost in for hours.
Half Price Books (Bay Area)
Half Price Books is a popular chain of bookstores that sell new and used books. With various locations throughout the Bay Area, including Berkeley, Dublin, Fremont, and Concord; Half Price Books is the go-to place for the most affordable books.
Walden Pond Books (Oakland)
Walden Pond Books is a family-owned independent bookstore that sells new, used, and rare books. With a wide selection of books, a very friendly and helpful staff, and a $1 book section, Walden Pond Books is a necessary stop when in Oakland.
Marcus Books (Oakland)
Marcus Books is a historic bookshop that was opened in the 1960s and is well known for being the nation’s oldest Black-owned independent bookstore. This bookstore specializes in titles by and about Black people and their mission statement is “To provide opportunities for Black folks and their allies to celebrate and learn about Black people everywhere.” Marcus Books should be your number one stop if you’re on the lookout for Black literature.
Spectator Books (Oakland)
Located on Piedmont Ave, Spectator Books is a cozy and independently owned bookstore that sells new, used, and rare literature. Included in their great selection of books is a curation of books by local authors. At Spectator Books, not only can you support a local bookstore but you can support local authors as well.
A Great Place for Good Books (Oakland)
Located in the Montclair Village neighborhood, this bookstore is a whimsical place perfect for book browsing with a particular stand-out section for kids’ books. The staff and the owner are exceptionally knowledgeable and they host great book and author-related events.
Owl and Company Bookshop (Oakland)
Owl and Company is a second-hand bookshop that offers an antique, rustic, and cozy atmosphere with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves perfect for any bookworm. This bookstore carries a great selection of rare books and is perfect for when you aren’t looking for a book in particular but are in the mood to browse. There is sure to be something for every kind of reader at Owl and Company Bookshop.
Pegasus Books (Berkeley/Oakland)
With three conveniently placed locations in Berkeley and Oakland, Pegasus Books sells new and used books. This bookstore is locally owned and carries a wide selection of books at very reasonable prices.
Rocket Reuse (Alameda)
Rocket Reuse is a small, vintage store that sells items ranging from clothes, books, movies, and comics. The book section in particular is a gem and is worth checking out if only for the amazingly inexpensive prices for the used books.
City Lights Bookseller and Publishers (San Francisco)
This independent bookstore is extremely well-known in the Bay Area and is a staple when in San Francisco. Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, City Lights started off as the go-to place for affordable paperbacks. With such a rich history and its association with the Beat Generation, City Lights is as much a cultural experience as it is a place to find your next favorite book.
Green Apple Books (San Francisco)
With a huge selection of both new and used books, Green Apple Books is a bookworm’s heaven. This is a local favorite bookstore in San Francisco and you’re sure to leave with at least one new book in your collection.
With Covid restrictions gradually being lifted, more bookstores are opening back up again. Local bookstores need consumers’ support now more than ever. It is vital that bookworms fulfill their role in reviving the print book industry by visiting and supporting your local bookstore, even if that is to merely browse their selection. If you live in or are visiting the Bay Area, you’re at an advantage due to the endless amount of bookstores where you are sure to find something that piques your interest.