Cody’s closes

The last Cody’s Books is closing. Years ago, I would go to one on Telegraph when visiting my brother, who reads even more than me.

I can’t believe it.

Free Speech.

Books everywhere

Books Everywhere
City Lights Bookstore, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon 2,8/25 ZM
1/60sec, iso320, 25mm (33mm)

[My local bookstores after the jump.]

Barnes and Noble and Borders

I live just two blocks from a Barnes & Noble. Bookstores such as that and Border’s contribute to the death of the corner bookstore as alluded to that movie. But, like shopgirl, it’s hard for me to dismiss it as evil—the expansive aisles with stools to read wherever and whatever you want. You can walk over and get some coffee at the Starbucks…just good luck finding a seat. Given my weakness for women who love the printed word, a local Barnes & Noble is better than a trip to the French Riviera—who can hate that? I rarely leave there without buying at least one book, even though I can get the same thing, cheaper, in two days or less.

But I have to wonder, can any bookstore survive without becoming an extension to Starbucks?

City Lights

Getting back from the Haight Street Fair, I notice an unanswered call and hit callback.

“Hey Terry, it’s Cheri.”

Cheri Ortega

Cheri Ortega
Calzone’s, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon 2,8/25 ZM
1/125sec, iso320, 25mm (33mm)

“Oh, hey! Sorry about that—I’m driving Andrei back. What’s up?”

“I’m heading to City Lights and you live in North Beach, right? Are you guys are up for that?”

Inviting me to shop at a bookstore? That’s like inviting a recovering addict to visit a crack house. “Uh, sure. we’ll meet you there.”

City Lights Booksellers and Publishers.
The legendary brainchild of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Via Ferlinghetti

Via Ferlinghetti
City Lights Bookstore, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon 2,8/25 ZM
1/22sec, iso320, 25mm (33mm)

Various streets in North Beach and Chinatown are named after famous beatniks. This street sign doubles as Lawrence’s office door.

The landmark to the First Amendment with the publication of Howl.
The birthplace of the beatnik.
My local bookstore.
Filled with local books.

Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse
City Lights Bookstore, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon 2,8/25 ZM
1/60sec, iso320, 25mm (33mm)

Living in Silicon Valley is an exercise in cultural disconnect. Here was what one person there mentioned to my sister-in-law: “I saw a program on the Food Channel about this interesting woman who grows herbs in the back of her restaurant and gets the rest of the food locally. It’s in Berkeley. You from there, have you ever heard of it?

All paperbacks
And it totally rocks.

I’m so lucky. 🙂


I love the printed word.

It brought us out of the Dark Ages and lights each day of mine in a way nothing else can. I am grateful, every day, to every writer who sparks my imagination and publisher who feeds my addiction.

Ferlinghetti’s brainchild has the good luck of being declared a historic landmark. Cody’s wasn’t so lucky. I still have to wonder about the future of the bookstore and books in general. Can they survive without being an extension of Starbucks? Has television and pickup culture replaced the book nerd?

After all, as I confessed to Cheri inside City Lights, “This bookstore rocks! This is my first time here, you know.”

“How is that possible?”

“Whenever I walk by, I seem to always have a full cup of coffee in my hand. You can’t bring that in here,” I reply sheepishly.

Parting shot

If you’re in SF and doing nothing this thursday, come meet a drug manufacturer.

His stuff is the shit.

5 thoughts on “Cody’s closes

  1. Just looking at those photos makes me want to run out to my local shop. We’ve had a few cool shops here in Montreal close down over the past few years. It’s sad really but people speak with their wallets. There are always tons of people at Starbucks helping to momogonize our worlds while to cool little local shop with flare and culture slowly fades away. While the pendulum ever swing back?


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