I wanted to do a short blog (yeah, right - no, really) about the independent bookstores that I know and frequent.
There are 3 that have the most author events:
Keplers - Menlo Park
M is for Mystery - San Mateo
Book Passage - Corte Madera (and SF)
So far this year, I have been to 4 author events at Book Passage (their Corte Madera store) and 3 each at Keplers and M. They all do an excellent job and are loads of fun. The only one that is very specific about which authors they will sponsor is M. That's because their name has "mystery" in it. They will only have mystery writers, and their store specializes in mystery, although you might find "literature" in there on occasion - not often, but once in awhile. When the store has an author that will bring in a lot of people, then they might use a larger venue. M has done that on a number of occasions, including Richard North Patterson and Jo Nesbo. Book Passage used Domincan College in San Rafael for both Jodi Picoult and Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone).
Besides these 3, I have come across 2 other independent bookstores in the last couple of months, both in SF:
Booksmith has author events. Joni and I saw Erik Larson there recently. He was promoting his new book, In the Garden of Beasts. Browser Books does not have author events, but it was there I "discovered" George Pelecanos. That was definitely worth the browsing.
Books Inc. looks like an independent bookstore (see their location in Town and Country in Palo Alto), but, in fact, they have quite a few stores. I will give them credit for creating the feel of an independent bookstore. Their Palo Alto store has a bunch of index cards on the shelves touting various authors and giving a synopsis and a review. That definitely makes it worthwhile to visit and leisurely walk through.
P.S. Palo Alto does have author events. I haven't been to any yet.
Finally, there's the new/used bookstore in Campbell, Recyle Bookstore. They have the latest books, which they sell at a discount, along with many used books that, oftentimes, sell for 50% off. In addition to that, you can sell your books to them and then you get to use the money as credit toward buying more. It's a pretty cool idea.
I know there are many other independent bookstores that I haven't been to. Marsha frequents the Bookshop in Santa Cruz, for example. If I come across any more, I will be sure to pass them along to you.