Sunday, May 07, 2006


For Sale: A Clean Well Lighted Place

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books has gone up for sale. Whoever buys it has a hard and charmless row (i.e. Van Ness Avenue) to hoe, despite the store's heroic efforts to bring some spark of human life to the cold slab of Opera Plaza.

Owner Neal Sofman is opening a new store next month with new investors in a much more welcoming neighborhood, with Bookstore West Portal. No apparent web site yet.... Sofman was savvy enough to snap up the domain back in the day; now the tables have turned a bit, because looking up, I see it is already owned by another store, West Portal Books. Oops.

Anyway, his move is a part of a much longer trend; while chains control the airless concreted expanses of commuter territory -- and it's hard to describe Van Ness any other way -- indies like the Booksmith in Haight Ashbury and Bookstore West Portal now survive in high density neighborhood economies.

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