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The Best Used Book Stores: Green Apple Books in San Francisco

Used book stores. One might say they’re the thrift stores of literature. I would say that they’re treasure troves of mystery and endless possibility (and also I would agree with the thrift store thing). Once you step inside a used book store, you never know what you might find. Maybe a cookbook that only has dessert recipes for your cat. Maybe a wizard is hiding in the back corner of the history section ready to send you on a quest. Perhaps you’ll find your next most favorite book of all time. The entrance to a used book store is less like a door and more like a portal into a magical land are magical, one I’m happy to get lost in. If you’re like me and ready to get lost in the land of literature may I suggest Green Apple Books in San Francisco, California.

From the outside, Green Apple Books looks like a small, unassuming book store. All of that changes when you step inside. There are isles of books of every genre and type. If you enter this store with a mission to find a book, there’s a good chance your mission will be completed. Green Apple Books has been around since 1967;  a 55 year old book store is sure to have some really old books, just waiting to be uncovered.

Whether you are looking for a new or used book, Green Apple Books is the place for you. While a larger portion of the store has newer books on the shelves, there are many sections that have used books displayed too. When I visited I also found shelves and displays featuring board games, greeting cards, tote bags and maybe even a poster or two.

One fun thing about Green Apple Books is how the store is laid out. There are three stories and multiple staircases leading up and down, so you can go up one staircase and descend via another. One the second floor be sure to look for the nooks and adjoining rooms that shot off from the main area. Each time we went in one of these rooms, I was expecting some sort of magical book gremlin to pop out from behind a shelf and suprise with a book I never knew I always wanted. We didn’t have enough time to explore every single room in Green Apple Books, but that just leaves something to look forward to when we go back to San Francisco.

The Pages of Peril podcast is all about Choose Your Own Adventure books, so naturally, we spent most of our time in the children’s landing of the store, which is a platform in the back area of the first floor. There was a wide variety of children’s books in this area. I found a book on dinosaurs that I was seriously considering purchasing, and we found a small shelf that had some new choose your own adventure books from Chooseco, sadly no old school Bantam books.

I also found some old Berenstain Bears books on a rack which brought back some bad memories. But that’s a story for another day… To my delight, I found a small table and two chairs in the heart of the children’s section, which looked like a cozy place for children to read.

Don’t worry about how you’ll carry all your Green Apple Book purchases home, the store has lots of branded tote bags, which you can find hanging from every place imaginable. They also come in a lot of different designs.

If you’re looking for something new or old, or just something different form Barnes and Noble or Amazon, and find yourself in Northern California, make sure to stop at Green Apple Books in San Francisco. You’re sure to get lost in a great story.


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