beat the bookstore

Beautiful bookstores from around the world:

The bookstore El Péndulo started off as a combination coffee shop and bookstore in 1992—today, with six branches in total, it is one of the most important cultural centers in Latin America. It even has a bar inside named after Bukowski. Oh, and there’s nothing quite like that sleek curved staircase for a glamorous, book-filled entry down to the main floor. Photo by @danielae

Istanbul might not be the first to come to mind when you think of cities with unique bookstores, but it sure is now. FiLBooks describes itself as “a space dedicated to photo books, artist talks and workshops in Karaköy.” I mean, swings in a bookstore? Are you kidding me? Amazing. Photo by @sezgiolgac

With our headquarters in San Francisco, we’re honored to live in a city that is home to a bookstore so heavily steeped in literary and Beat Generation history—City Lights Bookstore. As the first all-paperback bookshop in the United States and publisher to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, the store mantra couldn’t be more fit: “A literary meeting place since 1953.” Photo by @cestchristine

Just as we’re suckers for a hand-painted storefront, we’re equally suckers for bright neon signage; something about neon gas pumping through the word “Books” in cursive has us swooning. The amazing display of books stacked in a never-ending tier doesn’t hurt, either. Photo by @chloeferres

See the rest on our blog!


Today in 1955: U.S. Customs Department confiscates 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s book Howl, which had been printed in England. Officials alleged that the book was obscene. Publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, and the bookstore’s manager, Shig Murao,  were prosecuted in 1957 and eventually acquitted.


Finally made it over to City Lights Bookstore the other night to explore Jack Kerouac’s old haunts on Jack Kerouac Alley. He often frequented the pub next door as well. In some ways it was as though time itself had not touched these surroundings (coincidentally so) as I witness a dating couple sitting next to me in the basement discussing such a topic. The guy says to the girl very deeply “Time doesn’t actually exist. It’s just a tool that we’re taking too seriously.” The girl is very into this and responds “Yeah, like we just use it to set boundaries but it’s not really real”. I am eavesdropping and laughing to myself, wishing I could stay to hear this conversation in it’s entirety. Kerouac himself would have strongly approved of the young man picking up the girl with his seemingly heavy-handed quasi-eastern philosophy. It’s a beautiful store packed with history, character and rebelliously political hand-picked selections. There was an active poetry reading on the upper floor and I hope to attend more frequently.  I left with a copy of ‘Bob Dylan in America’. Predictable.

☆☆Special Orders☆☆

Important Information for Manga Collectors: The Art of the Special Order!

Most bookstores do not stock all our 100+ series. They may not even stock our new series–it really depends on the individual bookstore. Even if you keep returning to a bookstore to check the shelves, you may never find the series you want. Fans have asked me why certain series were discontinued–but it was just that their local bookstores no longer stocked them.

Here’s How Special Orders Work:

1. Call your local bookstore and ask for a “special order” for the manga volumes you want. (You can also ask staff in the store to do this for you. Don’t be shy!) They will search for the titles in their database and order the books in for you. This service is free. You do not have to pay at this point, just give them your name and phone number.

2. The bookstore will call you when your manga has arrived. It will be reserved for you in a special place (not shelved with the other manga). Go up to the cashier and say you have a special order waiting. They will bring your books to you for purchase. Simple!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve used this service for our manga! :3

Other Benefits of Special Orders

*Your manga will not be bent up and pre-read by other people in the store :/

*If you order a series, bookstores will know that series is in demand and may start stocking it in the future so others can discover it

*No more fruitless trips to the bookstore for Shojo Beat manga

*All bookstores have this service, especially indie ones 

-Editor Nancy


New Shojo Beat manga in bookstores 11/4!

*Kiss of the Rose Princess is a new series starting in November!

*Phantom Thief Jeanne is the final volume. It includes two all-new bonus stories not available in other editions.

*Black Rose Alice is by the creator of After School Nightmare.

*Spell of Desire is by the creator of Midnight Secretary

*High School Debut is by the creator of My Love Story!!

-Editor Nancy

Ginsberg’s Howl seized by U.S. Customs

On this day (25 March) in 1955, the U.S. Customs Department confiscated 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s book Howl, which had been printed in England. Officials alleged that the book was obscene.

City Lights, a publishing company and bookstore in San Francisco owned by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proceeded to publish the book in the fall of 1956. The publication led to Ferlinghetti’s arrest on obscenity charges. Ferlinghetti was bailed out by the American Civil Liberties Union, which led the legal defense. Nine literary experts testified at the trial that the poem was not obscene, and Ferlinghetti was found not guilty.

Howl, which created a literary earthquake among the literary community when Ginsberg first read the poem in 1955, still stands as an important monument to the countercultural fervor of the late 1950s and ’60s. Ginsberg stayed at the forefront of numerous liberal movements throughout his life and became a well-loved lecturer at universities around the country. He continued to write and read poetry until his death from liver cancer in 1997.