Data Points

Turning another chapter: Bookstores in the Bay Area

(Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash)

The number of bookstores retailing new books in the Bay Area dropped dramatically between 2005 and 2016, the latest year for which data was available. 

Regionwide, 307 bookstores were selling new books in 2005. By 2016, that number was 177, a drop of 42 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. 

Even in counties where few retailers were peddling new books in 2005, there were fewer in 2016. For example, Napa County had eight bookstores retailing new books in 2005 and in 2016 it had six. In Alameda County, the number dropped from 74 to 43.

Here’s how the counties ranked by number of bookstores selling new books in 2016.

1
1. Alameda County — 43
2
2. Santa Clara County — 39
3
3. San Francisco — 36
4
4. Sonoma County — 17
5
5. San Mateo County — 12
6
6. Marin County — 11
7
7. Contra Costa County — 8
8
8. Napa County — 6
9
9. Solano County — 5
1. Alameda County — 43
2. Santa Clara County — 39
3. San Francisco — 36
4. Sonoma County — 17
5. San Mateo County — 12
6. Marin County — 11
7. Contra Costa County — 8
8. Napa County — 6
9. Solano County — 5

Calvin Crosby, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, said, “There’s actually an upsurge now” in the number of bookstores. 

He believes that change began around 2012 and stems from an improving economy and to changes independent booksellers have made in the way they do business.

For example, booksellers are selling more non-book items such as candles and socks, and they are receiving improved training in bookselling at regional and national bookseller conferences.

Source: U.S. Census BureauNorthern California Independent Booksellers Association