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Downtown SF’s death spiral continues as independent bookstore shutters

The three-story Alexander Book Co. has been selling books on Second Street since 1990. | Google Street View

Downtown San Francisco is set to lose another treasured small business as Alexander Book Company is set to close, according to its website.

The owners of Second Street's 32-year-old bookstore wrote in a message posted to the shop’s website, “Alexander Book Company has had a great run, but we've finally reached the last chapter.”

The message also stated that all books in stock are now 25% off. While a closing date was not specified, some online commentators claimed that Alexander will shutter at the end of next month. If that is the case, the closure will be especially bittersweet, as April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day.

Perhaps more than most booksellers, the brick-walled, three-story Alexander Book Company has always been primarily oriented toward office workers: It’s open Monday through Friday and closed on weekends. As books have always been a reliable gift among colleagues and professional acquaintances, the store famously did a brisk business around the holidays.

Although there have been signs of life for small businesses in and around the Financial District, the seemingly permanent shift to hybrid or remote work has clobbered San Francisco’s entire Downtown core. 

San Francisco has also weathered the loss of a number of well-regarded bookstores in the past few years, but beloved enterprises like Dog Eared, Fabulosa, Green Apple and the famous City Lights are thriving. Rather ironically, Amazon, the company that rose to juggernaut status largely on the backs of independent bookstores, recently announced the closure of all four of its register-less Amazon Go locations.

The Standard has reached out to Alexander Book Company for comment.

Astrid Kane can be reached at