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State of the Bay

City Visions: The Future of Bay Area Independent Bookstores

What does the future look like for the Bay Area's independent bookstores? Although San Francisco has more independent bookstores than almost anywhere in the US, many shops are struggling to survive. One such place is the Mission District's Borderlands Books, which will close this month unless an innovative sponsorship plan can save it. Host David Onek talks with the owner of Borderlands and other Bay Area booksellers about what it takes to stay open in the face of Amazon, rising rent, minimum wage hikes, and more. 


Alan Beatts, founder and owner of Borderlands Books in the Mission District since 1997. 

Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books, a Richmond District cornerstone since 1967.

Michael Tucker, co-owner of Books Inc, the Bay Area's oldest independent bookstore.

Dave Tilton, co-owner of Vallejo Bookstore, which he and his wife recently opened in an effort to revitalize downtown Vallejo.

Quotes from the Discussion

"It was critical to me that we didn't just ask for a handout ... so we came up with a long list of benefits to offer our sponsors." - Alan Beatts, on deciding how to keep Borderlands Books in business

"The place that independent bookstores hold in the community is dealing with literacy, working with the schools, working with libraries, working with the authors...if you lose that part of a community, it's a terrible thing for discovery." - Michael Tucker

"Some booksellers actually have shirts that say, 'We are not an algorithm'." - Pete Mulvihill

"Everyone who comes in tells us how pleased they are that we have a bookstore in town - it's a very supportive community." - Dave Tilton