Once upon a time, A Different Light was a mini-chain that drove the long-time gay bookstore, Walt Whitman, out of business. Over time, A Different Light has had fewer and fewer books. It has outlasted a chain store coming and going across Castro Street, but is now more a card and video store that has some books.
Nonetheless, its residual prestige and Castro Street location draw some gay authors to appear at the store, and it serves some function as a cruising ground for literate gay men.
The staff would mostly like to be elsewhere, some fancying themselves as writers (OK, some former employees have made the transition!). A lack of knowledge about gay and lesbian literature is all-too-frequently displayed by the staff.
PROS: wide selection of gay magazines
CONS: dwindling selection of g/l books; ignorant, disengaged staff
Acorn Books is the size of several full-grown oak trees and contained many volumes. I have rarely found what I was looking for there, but have sometimes found some other interesting books.
The books generally seem overpriced to me, as if it was an antiquarian bookstore (when the selectivity is more than of a thrift store with more attention given to classifying and alphabetizing).
I wouldn't say the staff is unfriendly, but they generally seem indifferent to books and to customers (Codys and A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books show that this is not inevitable, and, for that matter, the staff at Borders seems more helpful, firendly, and knowledgeable than that of Acorn).
Especially if one is looking fora 1950s or 60s title that time has forgotten, Acorn is a place to check out.
PROS: many books, well organized
CONS: overpriced, undernourished
ACWLPB is where the authors I want to hear are most likely to appear in San Francisco. A few blocks north of the Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall, it is also a good place to browse between dinner and performances.
The staff are knowledgeable and eager to help (including many had-written recommendations of particular titles scattered through the large store).
The store is fairly large, but has fewer gay books and social science titles than the Union Square Borders store.
ACWLPFB has a frequent buyer program. Members receive a bimonthly listing of upcoming appearances that includes a 20%-off coupon. And after buying 20 (I think) titles, buyers receive a credit toward purchasing more equal to 20% of their total expenditures.
PROS: author appearances, dedicated staff
CONS: good but somewhat limited selection
Black Oaks draws the biggest-name authors for its reading series. It has a reasonable selection of new books (though not competitive with Cody's) and the array of academic and literary books of a premiere college town used book store (competitive with Moe's).
The staff does not have the surly, condescending "Perhaps I might deign to ring up your purchases" attitude of the staff at Moe's. They seem knowledgeable, if less friendly than the staff at Cody's.
Prices for used books are comparable to those at Moe's, higher than the used bookstores on Solano Avenue, fruther north (through the tunnel).
PROS: readings, inventory, staff
CONS: no bargains
Cody's, like Moe's, is a longstanding Berkeley institution, still influenced by the founder whose name it bears.
Cody's is the second-best site of reader appearances in the East Bay (after Black Oaks). It has the largest inventory of books, with a staff noticeably more helpful and friendly than the staffs of Moe's and Black Oaks. They are happy to order anything for a customer, but these days most customers are quite able to special order for themselves.
PROS: large inventory
CONS: bookstores are becoming obsolete?
Moe's has a lot of books, comparably priced to the used books at Black Oaks beyond the other side of the UCB campus and to Green Apple in San Francisco. Moe's is more likely to have a specialist academic title than any other Bay Area bookstore. The used bookstores on Solano Avenue have lower prices (and many remaindered titles).
It has many tables of remaindered books on each of its four levels, comparably priced to those at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco.
I have always found the staff surly and condescending, though the atmosphere is better without the stench of Moe's cigars that used to linger.
PROS: large selection
CONS: staff attitude
Fiction, DVDs, and music are in a separate building with a separate entrance.
Green Apple has a lot of books, more than Acorn (though Acorn is more likely to have forgotten 1950s and 60s harcover volumes). Green Apple's inventory is especially strong for books about history (arranged by geographic area).
The staff is professional and I enjoy the collection of tribal masks from around the world high on the walls of the store housing nonfiction (the original one), which also houses remaindered books.
Prices are comparable to Moe's, the venerable champion of Berkeley used book stores.
PROS: many books and many masks
CONS: not particularly cheap
One of my dental hygienists thinks Dr. Clark is somewhat forbidding and was surprised when I said that I enjoyed his sense of humor. It is, I guess, a little dry, but do you want someone bubbly performing root canals on your teeth?
I have found Dr. Clark very conscientious in discussing all the options and in explaining what he is going to do (if anything). The last time I saw him, after a dental bridge came loose in my mouth, he went through options in a way that was contrary to his self-interest, that is a course of treatment that what would profit him (a root canal). This increased my respect for his integrity (which was already high).
His receptionist (Alma) is very friendly, too. And his windows have good views.
PROS: complete and unbiased advice, technical skills
CONS: it's better not to need an endodontist!
I have had a dental extraction and the surgery for two dental implants with Dr. Ehsan. The procedures have gone well with less postoperative pain than I expected (on the basis of what others told me about drilling into the jawbone for the implants).
His technical competence seems to be outstanding. His assistants are also friendly and efficient.
Dr. Ehsan always seems to be in a very good mood, friendly, and to review all treatment options (including not doing anything and options that would generate no income for him). Obviously, he has inspired my trust, though I wish I had no need for a dental surgeon...
I'd recommend taking along something to read, but I usually do that anywhere I go.
PROS: thorough discussion of options, very postivie, friendly attitude
CONS: waiting room magazines
As far as I can tell, Dr. Const is top flight technically, though I have no special expertise in assessing that.
He is very much a patient advocate, willing to make extra effort to deal with insurers. He is also notable for discussing the costs, likely benefits, and possible risks of any treatment plan, never exuding the attitude "You should just do what I say" of many medical and dental professionals.
He has also made sure that his own "The patient comes first" attitude on his staff. They are friendly and courteous and offer juice or bottled water to every patient who comes in.
Insofar as dental appointments can be pleasant, those to Dr. Const are.
PROS: patience in explaining options without pressuring
CONS: office is currenly under some reconstruction