A charming enclave of San Francisco is the West Portal District nestled in a convenient spot between St. Francis Wood and Ingleside.
Along the main corridor of West Portal Avenue are dozens of shops, restaurants, and merchant hubs. Among the most frequented is the first two to three blocks.
Book Shop West Portal is a locally owned, independent bookstore in the heart of the West Portal neighborhood, just a block down from the MUNI – Metro tunnel where the K, L and M cars converge.
“People like coming in, we get lots of foot traffic,” said store manager Kevin Atkin.
It is because of the steady flow of foot traffic that local author Joseph Sutton was eager to sell his most recent book at the shop: “The Year the Giants Won The Series,” published by Mad Dog Publishing.
Sutton was at Book Shop West Portal to deliver more copies of his book. "Sales of my book are going very well,” Sutton said.
Drawn from his personal journal, Sutton’s observations of the San Francisco Giants’ climb to win the 2010 World Series will remind you over and over again how a bunch of ragtag ballplayers became champions of the world against all odds.
“I'm a Giants fan," said Atkin, "from the days they were at Candlestick Park."
Atkin enjoyed Sutton's 100-page book, written in a journal-log style with a very amiable narrative and easy-to-read personable style.
Atkin, who's been Book Shop West Portal's manager since it opened in 2007, said, “It's hard not to like Joe's little book, especially if you're a baseball or Giants fan. It’s a home run."
“We’re not breaking any records here,” said Atkin, noting the shift in book selling and publishing since the advent of electronic book formats like Kindle and Nook, as well as other wireless electronic reading devices.
Located at 80 West Portal Ave is the bookshop where printed books are still king, says the shop manager Kevin Atkin.
“We're fighting the good fight,” said Atkin, making reference to the fact that the digital revolution has impacted the way in which most merchants conduct business in a world economy using electronic means such as the Internet.
“It’s really all about the neighborhood,” Atkin went on. “We are here because the people of West Portal wanted us here. It's a very special neighborhood."
The constant stream of customers walking into the shop that afternoon was empirical testimony to what Atkin was saying.
More than a dozen people walked in to browse in less than 10 minutes. Some asked for particular books or had a question about a favorite author, like Sutton.
“When will your next book be coming out, Joe,” asked one customer. “Next year” replied Sutton, who is the author of seven books. His eighth book,“Highway Sailor: A Rollicking American Journey,” will be on the shelves in 2012.
Sutton’s titles are also available in electronic format. “My book, ‘The Year the Giants Won The Series,’ makes for a great Father’s Day gift because it's not only about the Giants' World Series year, but it's interspersed with my reflections on coaching my son's Little League team twenty years ago. It shows how my son and I bonded through the game of baseball."
Atkin said, “At some point soon we'll be offering digital book products, but old-fashioned hard copy is still king around here."
Atkin pointed out that the aesthetics of a book in print are still very appealing. “The look, the feel, the texture and smell of the pages; a real book to hold in your hands is still portable,” said Atkin.
“Yet," said Sutton, "for students or people who must do a lot of studying and research, having all the books on one device is a way to save on paper and printing costs. It's more convenient without all the extra bulk and weight to carry around."
“We like helping people get what they want,” said Atkin. He and shop owner Neal Sofman strive to ensure quality customer service because satisfaction is priority number one with them.
Sutton, like many residents of the West Portal and Parkside Area, are pleased that Book Shop West Portal is their neighborhood bookstore. “It establishes an important presence along the merchant corridor of West Portal,” he said. "It adds to the ease and convenience of shopping and spending time in West Portal.”
“The Year the Giants Won The Series” is now on sale at Book Shop West Portal. For details visit the web site.