5 places for bibliophiles San Francisco

Arion Press and M & H Type

1802 Hays Street


+1 415 668 2542


Lovers of books and binding, font, type and machinery will truly enjoy this place. A tour is a must, especially to see the foundry below where the machinery, walls of typefaces and materials are housed. Tours are held Thursdays at 3.30 pm, require a reservation and cost 10 dollars.

The book club of California

312 Sutter Street,
Suite 500
Union Square
+1 415 781 7532

In 1912, four men proposed a rare books and printing exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The concept was approved and they dubbed themselves the ‘Book Club of California’. The exhibit never happened, but membership grew and their clubhouse boasts an impressive collection

Mechanics' Institute Library & Chess Room

57 Post Street
Financial District
+1 415 393 0101

The oldest library on the West Coast and the oldest chess club in the U.S. Founded in 1854, the book collection has grown beyond the technical to include other subjects, like business and the arts. Chess players of all ages and skill are welcome. It’s free to visit and they offer a tour each Wednesday at noon.

Prelinger Library

301 8th Street,

Room 215
+1 415 252 8166

This library isn’t like most. Instead of traditional catalogs, materials are organized in a way that emphasizes browsing and discovering something new. The collection is mainly 19th- and 20th-century books, periodicals, maps and ephemera from the U.S. It’s open to all for research, reading, inspiration and users can reuse images and text from the collection in their own projects.

San Francisco Center for the Book

375 Rhode Island St
Potrero Hill
+1 415 565 0545

This organization is dedicated to the art and craft of the book, including letterpress printing, book binding and artists bookmaking. A great place to learn the history of books or get hands-on at one of their 400 workshops held annually. They also host free public programs like exhibits, book release parties, lectures and tours.

part of 55 places for art and culture

The 500 Hidden Secrets of San Francisco