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City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, California 94133 USA

751 Reviews
$$
Reasonable
Open Now
Thu 10a-10p
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
    Accepted
  • Pet Friendly
  • Not Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • Public
    Restrooms
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Learn more about this business on Yelp.

“Iconic beat generation bookstore”

City Lights is an independent bookstore- publisher combination that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. It also houses the nonprofit City Lights Foundation, which publishes selected titles related to San Francisco culture. It was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin (who left two years later). Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is one of the few truly great independent bookstores in the United States, a place where booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture's only "Literary Landmark." Although it has been more than fifty years since tour buses with passengers eager to sight "beatniks" began pulling up in front of City Lights, the Beats' legacy of anti-authoritarian politics and insurgent thinking continues to be a strong influence in the store, most evident in the selection of titles.The nation's first all-paperback bookstore, City Lights has expanded several times over the years; we now offer three floors of both new-release hardcovers and quality paperbacks from all of the major publishing houses, along with an impressive range of titles from smaller, harder-to-find, specialty publishers. The store features an extensive and in-depth selection of poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music, spirituality, and more, with a staff whose special book interests in many fields contribute to the hand-picked quality of what you see on the shelves. Poetic justice has been served here since 1957, when Ferlinghetti won a landmark freespeech ruling when he was pulled up on an obscenity charge for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s incendiary Howl. Head upstairs to the Beat section if you want a copy of it, or of the original scroll version of On the Road." -  BBC TRAVEL

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Photo of Jessica T.

Reviewed by
Jessica T.

I've seen many photos of City Lights before and was so happy to finally visit last week! City Lights has been a literary meeting place since 1953 and they're also a publishing company. I really... Read more

Photo of Fiona W.

Reviewed by
Fiona W.

Enjoyed this legendary bookstore's collection and decor and upstairs reading room until I made an (un)known mistake to ask one associate a question - "what if you disagree with Paul on his... Read more

Photo of Cecilia M.

Reviewed by
Cecilia M.

A super cool spot for all bibliophiles! This independent bookstore has all mainstream sections and books from all around the world, a solid collection of local books, and also super niche genres... Read more

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, California
94133 USA
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Hours

Open now until 10:00 pm
  • Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm

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    Pets Allowed
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    Restrooms
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    Wifi
  • Unavailable
    Wheelchair Accessible
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    Credit Cards Accepted
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    Outdoor Seating
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