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Rewriting 24th Street: Will Bookstore Alley Survive?

By Erica Hellerstein, Mission Local

On an uncharacteristically warm Saturday afternoon in the Mission, 24th street bustled with activity. To a steady tune of traffic and cumbia, pedestrians weaved up and down the sidewalk, popping into hip cafes, old-school panaderias and a growing number of independent bookstores on what is becoming known as “Bookstore Alley.”

In the past several years, four bookstores have opened within a small-block radius: Adobe Books, Alley Cat Books, Press: Works on Paper and Modern Times Bookstore Collective. Although each store has its own character and clientele, it remains to be seen if the four newcomers can survive.

“It’s interesting because a lot of people are now thinking of 24th as a bookstore row,’’ said Ashton Di Vito, a collective member at Modern Times Bookstore, which is having a difficult time. “This is a really good city for bookstores, a very literary city."

As San Francisco Chronicle Book Editor John McMurtrie proudly proclaimed in an interactive map that profiled the city’s literary giants, “San Francisco is one of the most vibrant literary cities in the world.”

But for a city crazy about books, local independent sellers have struggled to stay afloat and some on 24th Street have ended up there, fleeing high rents elsewhere in the Mission. Last year, Adobe Books was booted out of its location of over two decades after the store’s landlord announced he would be increasing rent by more than $4,000 a month. Adobe responded by launching a wildly successful indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and hauled itself to 24th Street. After changing up the business model and clearing out titles that had been languishing on shelves for years, the store seems to be faring well.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.