Bikes and Books

Today's theme: Green Apple likes bikes.
  • We got the city to install a bike rack in front of our annex (520 Clement). Alas, due to the bus zone in front of the main store, that's it for us. But Schubert's Bakery, right across the street, has a rack, too.
  • Green Apple is participating in the city's "I Bike SF" campaign. Show us your bike helmet at checkout and we'll give you 10% off.
  • Many Green Apple employees and owners bike to work most or much or all of the time.
Bike on over. Oh, and we have well curated selection of books on bikes, of course.


In celebration of 24 Hour Comic Book Day, Green Apple Books will be having a comic book sale. Over the last week or so we've pulled an enormous amount from our comics section, and on October 2nd and 3rd said pulled stock will appear repriced at absurdly low costs in the bins out in front of Green Apple's main store at 506 Clement St. A portion of these proceeds will be donated to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which is really great because there are a whole bunch of uptight jerks out there that don't want you to draw or write the things you may or may want to express, and for all its hard work fighting these jerks The CBLDF deserves any and all the outside compensation it gets.

Info on 24HCBD
Info on The CBLDF

You Like Us! You Really Like Us!

Not sure how to say this without sounding cocky, but we here at Green Apple are used to winning "Best of" awards. We'd like to believe that we're not resting on our laurels, and that we continue working hard to make Green Apple the great bookstore it has been for 43 years now. But you have to admit, most stores who win a Bay Guardian Best of the Bay award (not to mention SF Weekly, San Francisco Magazine, and so on) would most likely, and with good reason, hang those awards up somewhere in the store and crow about it a bit.

But we recently came across a folder where we stash our awards, with the intention of someday doing just that: hanging them up in the store and polishing our buttons. It was fun to go through. There are awards in the file going all the way back to 1992. There are proclamations signed by the board of supervisors and 2 governors.

We write this not to brag, but to tell you that we sincerely appreciate all the love we felt coming our way when we looked through this pile of awards.

Yes, that is Gray Davis's signature there. And Gavin Newsom's signature is on that Board of Supervisors resolution.


I don't revisit comics from my childhood as often as I once did, but on the occasions that I do my eyes are typically drawn to images like the one above. It seems to me there was once a time in which 'cosmic peril' was the big fad in the comics world. DC's 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths and Marvel's 1991 response to 'Crisis,' The Infinity Gauntlet, are prime examples of sagas ripe with images such as these. Images depicting unknowable drama amidst the stars, planets drawn way too close together, bizarre lighting effects, and some strange sense of horror vacui more commonly attributed to outsider artists like Adolph Wolfli or Louis Wain, which is funny because what are the cosmos but near emptiness?

The Infinity Gauntlet saga was collected and republished in full color last July (unlike so many great of the late great Jack Kirby series; who wants to read The Forever People in black and white?!?!), and I'm happy to say that copies have finally shown up at Green Apple. Atop that Brendan McCarthy's heavily Ditko inspired Spider-Man: Fever will be arriving shortly. These are both a couple of books that are guaranteed to keep your eyes busier than any new monotonous autobio comic (notable exception: Drinking at the Movies) or rehashed zombie story (notable exception: The Walking Dead). So drop by and check them out, and while you're at it have a look at a few other things as well. Here are some suggestions (or):

-Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Work
-Prison Pit Volume II
-Set to Sea
-The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen
-Fire & Water
-Strange Tales

Movies for Locals Only

Green Apple is pleased to be offering two new DVDs that you won't find on Netflix. These are truly local stories.

First is the awe-inspiring story of several Lakota people's journey From the Badlands to Alcatraz. Local swimmer and pediatrician Nancy Iverson, inspired by the terrible public health on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, launched a program to help them reclaim their health and spiritual power by swimming from Alcatraz. They have a mere six days to train. One of them has never been in the water before. . . .

The movie is a well-done documentary, moving and inspirational. You will likely reconsider your limitations after seeing this film. $19.95 in-store only.

Next up is Remembering Playland at the Beach, the story of the Fun House (remember that slide?), Laffing Sal, the Diving Bell, and, of course, the Big Dipper. This film showed to packed houses at the Balboa Theater recently, and we sold out of our first shipment, but reinforcements should be here shortly. Take a trip to the foggy west end of yesteryear in San Francisco. $19.95 in-store only.

Signed Copies of our "Book of the Month" in stock!

Tom McCarthy whirlwinded by the store today to sign copies of his Man Booker Prize-shortlisted and, more prestigiously (ahem) Green Apple-selected "Book of the Month," C this afternoon. Come get yours before they're gone!

Calendars are here

It's officially fall.

While we're still organizing them and need to tidy up the rest of the mezzanine, we have about 1,000 2011 calendars for your perusal. It's annually the best selection in San Francisco. But the best calendars sell out first, so come while the pickin's are ripe!

Poem of the Week by Zbigniew Herbert

It's the last week of summer (and the fog has burned off on Clement Street); let's start the week off with a few prose poems from The Collected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco Press, 2008).


It's completely black, but has an electric tail. When it sleeps in the sun it's the blackest thing you can possibly imagine. Even in its sleep it catches frightened little mice. You can tell by the claws that grow from its paws. It's terribly winsome and wicked. It swipes nestlings from the tree before they're ripe.


It has been raining all morning. The woman from across the street is to be buried. The seamstress. She dreamed of a wedding ring but died with a thimble on her finger. Everyone thinks this is funny. Respectable rain is darning the sky to the earth. But nothing will come of that either.


I don't understand how you can write poems about the moon. It's fat and slovenly. It picks the noses of chimneys. Its favorite thing to do is climb under the bed and sniff at your shoes.

Our most widely ignored signs

or, why do we even try?

yeah, right

but there are books in front of me

ha! nice try, George

and the most ignored (and brightest) sign in the store. Yes, there's a second floor.


If the flood of events that Green Apple is hosting this month doesn't satiate you by the beginning of October, I've got one final suggestion that will hopefully exhaust you for a while until we can catch up with your break-neck pace. On October second Peter Beste, the acclaimed photographer behind the 2008 release (and Christmastime bestseller) True Norwegian Black Metal, will be attending a reception and signing copies of his book at Articulated Gallery in the Haight. The show itself promises to be a brutal showcase of many of the finer points of the Norwegian Black Metal lifestyle, a surreal and often times gratifying sight to behold even if it may be through the window of another's camera lens.

While I've heard a couple of critics assault the photograph subjects in libel as "posers" who "weren't there" (simply not true in the case of the latter accusation), I still encourage people to check out the show while keeping in mind a couple of questions. A) "What is it that spawns curious subcultures such as these?" And B) "Where is the line drawn between the emulation of a movement and the real thing?" The answers are difficult to provide in any particular context, but curiously applicable from subject to subject. Take the attention off of Norwegian Black Metal for a moment and change the focus to say, I don't know, Amazon (dot) com. What spawns a curious subculture such as a subculture of censorship and 'blandification'? And where is the line drawn between an intentionally lacking lit-on-kindle selection and flat out libricide?

Okay... I'm really reaching here. Check out the cool black metal photo show, don't shop on Amazon, and come buy the new Christian Mistress LP from Green Apple's annex. I should have mentioned that earlier. It slays.

Poem of the Week by Gustaf Sobin

Happy Monday. The poem of the week returns with one from Gustaf Sobin's Collected Poems (Talisman House, 2010).


with you
what I know of

the world
opens, has

that of
swelling, wave as

it tatters, a
ruled line, against

reefs, a
breadth that

spreading, breaks

to dull tokens, spent

petals, what the

close on, hold

in its
swift tissues, those


shadows as

pouring, light

from your
fingers, your

blue, un-
loosened sash.

Trivial Pursuit

I'm a little strapped for time today so a quick spritz of bibliophile trivia is all I've got for you then and I'm off to do some other bookstore stuff. Did you know that Frank Miller designed this edition of Gravity's Rainbow? I didn't, but a friend of mine recently pointed out that there's a little 'FM' in the bottom right corner there. Kinda' neat. Anyway, I'd better get going. Later, dawgz.

Too Damn Many Books!

Sometimes we just get so many books in our warehouse that we have to clear some of them out. Here's the Yelp review of the clearance store we had up the street a few years ago. That surplus was due mostly to shutting down our internet warehouse and suddenly finding ourselves with thousands of more books than we knew what to do with. Not quite the case this time, but we do have some excellent remainders that our buyers just guessed wrong on. We thought they would sell in droves, and some of them did, just not droves enough. These are quality books like Pen/Faulkner winner Netherland in hardback for a mere $2.99,`Eric Schlosser's young adult edition of Fast Food Nation called Chew on This for a mere $1.99, and maybe the best buy of all, The Ultimate David Sedaris audio collection on CD, which retailed for almost $100 when it was new, now it is only $24.98. Supplies are limited, get 'em while they're hot.

Check out these other highlights from the clearance table:

Roast Chicken and Other Stories: Originally $24.95 then $7.98 Now $3.99

McSweeney's 24 Originally $24.00 Then $9.98 Now $4.99

Chris Ware: Originally $22.50 Then $9.98 Now $4.99

September Author Events au go-go

For whatever reason, over the last year, more and more publishers and authors have offered to have (FREE!) events at Green Apple. That bounty has hit some sort of critical mass this month: we're hosting NINE events in September.

Last night was a look at SF history through photographs with
Rebecca Schall. Tonight is Joseph Mattson, author of Empty the Sun. How can you go wrong with a pre-apocalyptic cross-country race to bury the murdered past, culminating in a gunfight with God? To top it off, the book comes with a CD that sets this beautifully reckless novel of transgressive loss to an open-road, open-whiskey soundtrack composed by Drag City recording artist Six Organs of Admittance.

Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs); Rick Bass (fiction); Dave Eggers (fiction); Saul Austerlitz (on American film comedy); Fred Lyon (on SF history in photographs) and John Casti (on why mood matters).

And next month brings Litquake and another bounty of fantastic authors.

So if you're not already on our email list, sign up here. Or bookmark our events page so that when you're itching to go out, you can include literature and your friends at Green Apple in your plans. There's a seat waiting for you. . .

(photo by Robin Allen; thanks, Robin!)

In Praise of Old Books

Despite the fact that used books occupy 2/3 of the space in our store - and that used book sales support our smaller stock of new books - there's a tendency for us to blog almost exclusively about new (in both senses: new as in unused and new as in recently released) books. There are reasons for this: mostly due to our, well, quaint point of sales system and the sheer volume of secondhand books that come across the buy counter in a single day, it would be almost impossible for us to catalog every used book.*

Then, of course, there's the tendency to tout the new, the in-the-news, and ultimately for our purposes here, those books we can link to.

But, sadly (or fortunately, for those who prefer to retain some distinction between the virtual and real worlds), there are thousands of books that fall into none of those categories, most broadly those books we don't stock new for whatever reason (space is usually a determining factor), out-of-print books, remainders, etc. Thousands of these kinds of books will never make it onto our blog, even if they're in our hearts. They'll sit on our shelves, unlit by the glare of the computer screen, waiting for the winds of fate to blow someone toward them; some sooner, others later; some by chance, others by necessity.

So while we continue to sing the praises of our monthly picks, the latest work by one of our favorite authors, or the book gracing the front page of the New York Times Book Review, remember that the serendipitous charm of a used bookstore - and for the browser, the curious, the hopeful-for-happy-accidents, the reason to get off the internet and stand in a physical space overburdened with possibility in the form of books - is that you just might find something unexpected. Or something you've been searching a lifetime for.


* Changes, I'm told, are imminent; which means that soon this post will be as antiquated as our MS-DOS based inventory program.

Givin' a Shout Out for My Booksellin' Homies!

We had a customer come into the store yesterday looking for a book for which he had very little information. The clues that he had were: it is set in France, and it has either an animal or a fruit or vegetable in the title. Now, for you booksellers in the audience, or anyone who just wants to play at home, the answer is at the bottom of this blogpost, so don't scroll down until you've made your guess.

I think it is a general misconception that bookstore customers believe they are annoying booksellers when they ask for help finding a book about which they have very little information. The opposite is true: booksellers live for the customer who knows only that the book they are looking for has a white cover and is set in Lapland (Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida, too easy). Try this sometime: walk up to a bookstore information counter, and say you are looking for a book, but you don't know the title or author. My guess is you will see any other booksellers who might have overheard your query slowly drift towards to conversation. It is like being asked to play Trivial Pursuit in the middle of your workday, and the less information the customer proffers the better, so that if the answer is arrived at, bragging rights are claimed.

Well, such bragging rights go out to my man Cole, who hesitated not the least when presented with the question above.

Green Apple Commercial #13: Tom McCarthy's "C"

The Upcoming Book of the Month:
Available Tuesday, September 7th
Tom McCarthy's "C"

Following on the heels of Remainder (2007), a book Zadie Smith called "one of the greatest English novels of the last ten years," comes Tom McCarthy's dazzlingly complex and riveting novel, C. Set at the turn of the 20th century, C - a letter signifying a number of things, from communications to coincidence to cocaine, from ciphers to Cairo to crackpots - tells the story of Serge Carrefax (another contributing "C") as he navigates through the onset of modernity, moving from an idyllic childhood in the British countryside to a series of tumultuous and formative events (he's an airman in WW1, a POW, a debaucherous student in post-war London, a spy in Egypt...). As much an adventure story as a novel of ideas, C is unlike anything you will read this year - which is why we're so excited to select it as our "Book of the Month."


It seems that Facebook has pie in its...well...face again recently, when it was announced that they are taking legal action against the educational website, Teachbook, due to perceived copyright infringement on their "" brand.

Smacks of capriciousness to me, but I'm thrilled at their official statement on this matter, as quoted in Wired, "Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, pointed out that “we have no complaint against Kelly Blue Book or Green Apple Books...”" Sounds a bit like Green Apple is Facebook's favorite bookstore, right? 500,000,000 users can't be wrong!

Now click below to enjnoy something completely different, spotted on Laughing Squid this morning:


Hey there. If you happen to be the Green Apple customer who left six pairs of sunglasses and two pairs of reading glasses behind maybe about, oh I don't know, two and a half years ago, well we're still holding them behind the front counter for you. You can come pick them up any time we're open. Just ask. Thank you.

GAB Staff.