A Cozy Few Minutes with Bookshop West Portal


West Portal is a pretty little San Francisco neighborhood with its own unique, slightly European flavor. Just blocks from the Muni station is Bookshop West Portal, where I happily found a copy of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Here I also found the most recent issue of Fourteen Hills. I was fortunate enough to speak with store manager, Kevin Atkin, and employee, Jesse Bakers, about this inviting and beautiful book shop.

Fourteen Hills: Hello, how are you today?

Kevin Atkin and Jesse Bakers: Good! We’ve been a bit busy this morning but things have calmed down.

FH: Excellent. So I was interested in some of the literary programs that your bookstore has. What are those and how do they work?

Atkin and Bakers: Yeah, that’s a good question. Well, this [latest one] is relatively new. [Once a month we choose a facilitator who leads a book club]. It has been a good program for readers who like to be introduced to new work and discuss it with others.

FH: That sounds very interesting. So what kind of genres do you discuss in this program?

Atkin and Bakers: Well, it’s exclusively literary fiction. We tend to focus on that more because that’s the genre our customers are particularly interested in.

FH: Do you have author readings?

Atkin and Bakers: Yes, we do. All the time.

FH: What kind of authors do you invite?

Atkin and Bakers: We invite all kinds. We have a range of authors, from well-known to local bay area authors, to self published authors. We have them come in frequently to read their work and introduce themselves to the readers.

FH: Do you provide author readings or a network for authors who are unknown and perhaps geographically far from San Francisco?

Atkin and Bakers: Well, in a business sense, we try to do our research with that because we do need to have somewhat of the public’s exposure to the author and demand for that author’s work. We are willing to push for local authors, but if you are an unknown author and interested in pushing for your book, we would suggest you get an agent and have some sort of PR strategy. Then we are willing to promote and send out e-mails and advertisements.

FH: Lastly, tell us a little bit about Bookshop West Portal’s history.

Atkin and Bakers: Sure. So the owner Neil and his business partner used to own A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in the city, and six years ago they decided that they wanted to open another book shop and this neighborhood wanted a bookstore at that time. They initially were going to have a realtor move into this spot but yeah, we got this spot and here we are!

FH: Thank you so much for your time!

Bookshop West Portal is a carrier of Fourteen Hills. They are located at 80 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 and have a wonderful website with extra information and updates on newly arrived books, journals, and classes every day: http://www.bookshopwestportal.com.

Fourteen Hills Press is staffed exclusively by graduate students in SFSU's Creative Writing program. We publish the annual Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review and annual chapbooks. Fourteen Hills is committed to publishing the best of original poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, and cross-genre work created by writers in the US and abroad.

Fourteen Hills is a proud member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses

© 2018 by Fourteen Hills, SFSU Dept. of Creative Writing

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