The highly regarded architectural bookstore William Stout is opening its first store outside San Francisco Wednesday on Solano Avenue in Berkeley.
The shop — at 1605 Solano next door to the Custom Spaces kitchen and bathroom store — will carry new, used, and out-of-print books on architecture, interiors, photography, arts and crafts and urban planning. It will be managed by Stout staffer Matthew Swiezynski.
Bill Stout says he chose Berkeley because of the bookstore’s ongoing publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because the Solano district is “a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now”. Stout is hoping to find customers for his books among UC Berkeley staff as well as Berkeley architecture enthusiasts.
Swiezynski adds that they homed in on Berkeley because they think there are more bibliophiles in the East Bay. “In San Francisco an interest in books is dying,” he says. The location is also closer to William Stout’s publishing arm which is on the waterfront in Richmond.
William Stout has been in business in San Francisco for over 35 years. It stocks thousands of architecture-related titles both at its main location on Montgomery Street and in an annex store on Mission Street.
Stout, formerly a practicing architect — as testified by his Le Corbusier style, round-frame spectacles — runs William Stout Publishers which publishes books mainly on architecture and landscape in the Bay Area. The company has published several titles in collaboration with UC Berkeley, including the recently released Design on the Edge: A Century of Teaching Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, 1903-2003, edited by Waverly Lowell, Elizabeth Byrne and Betsy Frederick-Rothwell.
Stout concedes it could be seen as an odd decision to be opening an independent bookstore just as so many are being forced into closure. However, niche bookstores — be it food-focused like Omnivore Books in San Francisco or with a gardening specialty such as Mrs Dalloway’s in Berkeley — seem to stand a better chance than others. Berkeley’s Builders Booksource, opened by George and Sally Kiskaddon in 1982 to cater to “the wonderfully over-educated contractors and design folks of the SF East Bay Area” continues to do business at its Fourth Street location.
The Berkeley William Stout store will be open 11am-7pm every day except Sundays and Mondays. Swiezynski says to expect an opening party some time next month. Anyone with specific questions is welcome to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org