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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust: Esoteric, Independent S.F. Bookstore Succumbs to Crap Economy

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge Small book-sellers have weathered tougher times -- but not many
  • Small book-sellers have weathered tougher times -- but not many
During the height of the Philadelphia Phillies' 80 years of futility, the joke going around the City of Brotherly Love was that the local papers kept in standing type -- this was the days before laser printers -- the headline "KLEIN HITS TWO AS PHILS LOSE."

If we still had standing type 75-odd years later here in San Francisco, we could preserve a variation of the headline gracing this story: "Independent S.F. Bookstore Goes Under."

Today's victim: Babylon Falling on 1017 Bush Street (at Jones). The store bills itself "a concept-based" space featuring books that "embrace the spirit of change and revolution" without spouting any particular ideology. Oh, it's also an art gallery. This, by the way, is just the sort of cool place that Bay Area folks love the idea of and love having in their neighborhoods -- but don't go to enough to keep afloat (See: Parkway Theater).

Store owner Sean Stewart has announced a massive sale -- he plays up his literature on graffiti and street art -- commencing tomorrow and lasting throughout April. And while he's certainly not thrilled to pull the plug on his store, he's taking the blow remarkably well.

"It's one of those situations that's sad, no doubt, because of how beautiful an experience it was. But I moved in with a pretty solid idea of what I wanted to create and it's just not possible with this [economy]. You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows," he said with his Jamaican-accented lilt. "We were able to create this really vibrant community around the store. We just kind of got sideswiped by shit that was out of our control. I think it's still possible, with a little bit of tweaking -- this model of an independent bookstore can not only exist, but thrive. I'm not too down and out about it in that sense. It's just not for me to do." 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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