Save the Independent Bookstores!

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As the COVID-19 health crisis changes life across the globe, San Francisco and the Bay Area's civic leaders have the power to save the independent bookstores at the center of literary life by designating them the status of cultural institutions.

Can you imagine San Francisco without bookstores?

We come to you as authors, booksellers and concerned supporters of the arts in an unprecedented time in human history. We support the Mayor's decision to establish the Art Relief Program for artists and cultural organizations: We see the bookstores as belonging in that category. We ask you to designate independent bookstores the status and resources available to cultural institutions, defined as an organization within a culture/subculture that works for the preservation or promotion of culture. Like the public and private museums and art galleries, libraries and archives, and churches, bookstores promote the culture of literary arts and literacy, as well as a general engagement with art and life.

We believe our bookstores are an essential part of a community's character, that we contribute to the cultural landscape, and are part of a city's cultural heritage as centers of free thought and ideas. As such, we must promote and protect our literary businesses as vital resources and valuable community treasures. Our bookstores are community gathering spots and our events draw and provide platforms for underrepresented groups and voices: We stock books and feature readings by immigrant and culturally diverse, LQBTQ, and disabled artists and authors. We offer free writing and arts education for children and adults, performances and other basic services. We are the place people go to get acquainted with a neighborhood, to know their community, to be a part of something greater than themselves.

As keepers of literary culture, bookstores move beyond small retail operations into the realm of cultural institutions. We have risen to the challenge of meeting rent and payroll obligations during the current shelter in place order. But as guardians of literacy and literary life, our stakes are increased: The cultural programming, the learning, the community we provide is unique to small bookstores.

Simply put, bookstores, like other cultural institutions, are in Mayor Breed's words, “at the heart of who we are as a City and a community.” We hope that you will take action and do all in your power to expand the categories of what’s defined as a cultural institution and help us sustain our independent bookstores with grants and appropriate cultural resources and protections.

Thank you for your consideration. With your leadership and action, we are committed to serving our communities.

Alley Cats Books

Book Passage

City Lights Books

Dog Eared Books

Globus Books

Green Apple Books

Rebound Books

California Independent Booksellers Alliance - CALIBA

United Booksellers of San Francisco

Cassandra Dallett, Badass Bookworm Podcast

Kim Shuck, San Francisco Poet Laureate

Rebecca Solnit, Author 


SF Creative Writing Institute

Note: This is not a fundraiser. Your contribution is your voice. ( is asking for an optional donation automatically.)