Intercept

Intercept

San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

Locally+bestselling+books+and+recommendations+line+the+front+shelves+of+Dog+Eared+Books.
Back to Article
Back to Article

San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

Locally bestselling books and recommendations line the front shelves of Dog Eared Books.

Locally bestselling books and recommendations line the front shelves of Dog Eared Books.

Locally bestselling books and recommendations line the front shelves of Dog Eared Books.

Locally bestselling books and recommendations line the front shelves of Dog Eared Books.

Malena Solin, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The storefront of Dog Eared Books includes sketches of authors and artists.

Sun-soaked shelves, handmade cardboard signs, and an occasional stray bicycle or model ship reflect a warm, morning light through decorated windows. They beckon the Mission District’s casual shoppers into a literary mindset, distracting from any coffee shops or street art that entice many a tourist in the newly trending neighborhood. Without any technologically new merchandise or store design, a shop like Dog Eared Books should be struggling to stay afloat in the age of online book vendors; however, its success has yet to waver.

Neither the store’s ownership nor customer flow have fluctuated since its founding in 1992, and Dog Eared Books’ greatest shift was from selling only used books to offering a combination of used and new materials. 

Now, more than half of our sales are new books,” said manager Ryan Smith. He attributed the need for change to the new money and increase of wealth infiltrating San Francisco over the last few decades.

“People who live in this neighborhood have a lot more disposable income than they did 20 years ago,” said Smith. “That’s the biggest change: there are a lot more people who are happy to spend 25 dollars on a book instead of eight dollars on a book.” 

In order to keep up with the prosperous community that tends to rely on Silicon Valley technology for profession as well as lifestyle convenience, Dog Eared Books cannot afford to transform itself into a peer of Amazon and other online book sellers. 

Cultivating a selection of books that differentiates the independent store from larger corporations is essential, Smith said, to success for Dog Eared Books. 

“They can carry everything; they can carry it cheaper than we can,” he said. “That’s not what we do; we try to create a space that’s fun to come to. Instead of having everything so you can’t decide, we try to have just the best things.” 

Talk of independent bookstores closing due to the rise of online book shopping gives the impression that shops like Dog Eared Books cannot survive. However, Smith is firm on his stance that the San Francisco independent bookstore has a future, gaining stability from Amazon. 

“Amazon sort of murdered Borders and Barnes & Noble and maybe opened up a little interstitial space for smaller, independent retailers,” Smith said. 

By utilizing platforms owned by Amazon such as AbeBooks, independent booksellers are making considerable profits. Even San Francisco’s antiquarian bookseller community is thriving in the Amazon age, although an appreciation for rare first editions seems the antithesis of the city’s new culture of technological development. 

John Windle Antiquarian Booksellers contains many rare volumes, although its office space is limited.

One building on Geary Street houses two antiquarian booksellers: John Windle Antiquarian Books and Brick Row Bookshop.

“I think San Francisco has been a good focus for people on the West Coast interested in the book arts,” said Rachel Eley of John Windle Antiquarian Books. 

With a young customer base as well as aging collectors, Eley believes in a future for rare books and fine printing in the city. Eley acknowledged the threat that Amazon appeared to pose to independent booksellers as its popularity skyrocketed, but believed that the antiquarian book trade has “definitely recovered.”

Even with the success that independent bookstores have seen since online book vendors began to dominate the literary market, only locations with significant economic resources can support a contemporary book shop. 

“There used to be bookstores everywhere: crummy ones and nice ones in nice neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods, and now it’s like, there’s just one little area left,” Smith said. “You can open up a book store on a fancy street in Boston, or you can open up a bookstore on a nice street in Seattle, but good luck opening up a bookstore in the suburbs of Tulsa.”

San Francisco provides many a “fancy street” for independent bookstores to develop their literary personalities, and it appears that even Amazon cannot quench their success in the near future.

 

About the Writer
Photo of Malena Solin
Malena Solin, Staff Writer

Malena Solin is a rising high school senior from Marin, California. She loves to sing, write and tutor younger students, as well as read all kinds of novels....

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    Lifestyle

    Fashion-forward locals talk trends

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    Lifestyle

    Thrifting Evolves in the Bay Area

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    News

    A hard truth: homelessness still lives in the city

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    Home

    The intricacies of change in San Francisco

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    News

    Salesforce changes the culture and cityscape of SF

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    Lifestyle

    Fashion-forward locals talk trends

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    Lifestyle

    Thrifting Evolves in the Bay Area

  • San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age

    News

    Mission residents trapped in a “chasm of income”

Navigate Right
San Francisco bookstores benefit from the Amazon age