Arts and CultureSan Francisco

Your Local Neighborhood FREE Book Store!

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Imagine this: Your friend tells you about a great bookstore they just heard of… You go there, and when you walk in, the woman behind the counter tells you to take a look around… AND to take as many books as you want… for FREE!

Luckily, this is not some hazy dream from the ’60’s still lingering in the Bay Area’s consciousness, it’s a real store.

It’s called Bay Area Book Exchange. As of this writing, they have given away 253,344 books!


Skeptical about the collection? Wondering if a “store” full of free books can actually have anything good? I could tell you they do, but I’m just one guy. Check out their solid 4.5 Star rating on Yelp and plenty of people writing things like, “I thought there would be no good books, but there were tons of them!” Etc.

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So, how do you find your way to this Literary Love fest? This Hardcover Happyplace? This Paperback Paradise? This Voluminous Vessel of Valuable Volumes? Head to El Cerrito.

Ah! Stop sighing and shaking your head. It’s not that far. I did the math for you already: If you take BART from 16th St. Mission station to El Cerrito Plaza, it costs you $4.00 each way. That’s only $8 for all the free books you want! It’s like a cheap vacation to a magical land of free books!

I read on their Facebook page that Saturday mornings are great for the best picks, and they open at 9am. Can’t stand to skip brunch? Calm down. I’ve got you covered. Go to Nibs and get a big ass breakfast for like ten bucks.

To review, that’s a mini-vacation for you + one guest for less than $20 each, and all the souveniers are free.

If you go, let me know what you think in the comments.

Bay Area Free Book Exchange
10520 San Pablo Ave
El Cerrito, CA 94530
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Scott James - Paperback Pundit

Scott James - Paperback Pundit

Author of Sidewalk Ritual, self-publishing teacher, lover of coffee and IPA. http://scottandrewjames.com