|The Booksmith - San Francisco, CA|
When you visit San Francisco you will have many wonderful attractions and neighborhoods to explore. The Haight-Ashbury area was a hub of "hippie subculture" and exploded on the scene back in the 60s. The area maintains much of that history today with its many shops, restaurants, bars, and unique businesses. You'll enjoy all these attractions but best of all for me was the wonderful independent bookstore located on Haight St., only a few blocks front the iconic Haight-Ashbury intersection.
This brightly colored, one-level bookstore is home to a good inventory of new books, lots of magazines and journals, and a few sidelines including book bags, greeting cards, t-shirts, and journals just to name a few. The sidelines are a piece of the business pie but make no mistake, the books are the thing. The store is located in a very touristy area and that is reflected in the customer base where approximately 50% of the customers are tourists. Christin E., the co-owner, told me the other 50% of business comes from local customers in the Haight-Ashbury area, a neighborhood that has a high percentage of turnover in its residents. Since many bookstores count on strong local support in times of dire need, Christin is unsure how strong that support would be if needed. That said, business is strong here. Christin is knowledgeable, has a good background, and I see no reason for this store not to continue with a healthy business for years to come.
One of the strengths of this indie is the author events programs held right in the store. Like many other indies, many of the bookshelves are on wheels and they are able to clear space to hold 200+ people. This is a great way to bring customers into the store. As for books, anything related to counter-cultrue is strong here, as you might expect in this neighborhood. Another strength is the beautiful art work and designs you see around the store. How many indies have an artist on staff? Sean is here not only as a bookseller but an artist.
Christin was terrific to talk to during my visit and told me a lot about the store and the area. She even took a phone call during my visit but told the caller she was in a meeting. I never thought I'd see the day where I was in a meeting at an independent bookstore. Oh, if only all meetings could be like that! Readers, absorb the counter-culture. Peace. Love. Rock and roll. Bookstores. Especially The Booksmith. Go to an indie and buy a book. Bonsoir.
JUST FINISHED: The Borrower, Rebecca Makkai. Fiction. Story of a librarian who forms a special bond with a little boy, doesn't care for how the parents are raising him, and embarks on a journey cross-country to solve the problem. Very good. Dog Songs, Mary Oliver. Very short and very good. Dog-lovers and pet owners, this one is for you. I'm not a poetry person and this is an easy one for us non-poetry people.
CURRENTLY READING: The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God, Etgar Keret.
RECENTLY PURCHASED: Blackout, Sarah Hepola.
|Front window display.|
|View looking straight back through the store from the front entrance.|
|View looking to the right from the front entrance. Notice the border art above the shelves. Very nice and my pictures don't do it justice.|
|Some of the greeting cards you'll find here.|
|This store has a very active event schedule. Here was the upcoming line-up on the day of my visit.|
|Some of the staff favorites.|
|Bestsellers at this indie. Have you read any of these yet?|
|More of the nice artwork border above the shelves.|
|These are only a few of the magazines you'll find here.|
|Some of the sidelines.|
|A great section of local interests.|
|The offices in the back beyond this door. Only knock and enter if you're a guy traveling the country visiting bookstores.|
|With Christin, the fine co-owner at The Booksmith. Thanks for a great visit.|