San Francisco’s Green Apple Books will consolidate space at its flagship Clement Street location by September, reducing the store’s overall size back to its original 1996 footprint. The reduction in size comes after a year in which bookstores across the country have moved locations or made substantial alterations to their existing spaces as they prepare to enter a post-Covid-19 retail environment.

In a statement, co-owner Pete Mulvihill said the store’s book selection will only slightly decrease. Instead, sideline items that were added to compete with the rise of big-box retailers a generation ago will be removed, and the store’s selection of LPs and magazines will be reduced. The store's overall footprint will be 5,000 sq. ft.. Green Apple's two other locations; Green Apple Books on the Park and Browser Books, will not be affected by the decision.

“While bookstores always operate on razor-thin margins and rely wholly on consumer support, please know that our bookstores are not in financial distress,” Mulvihill wrote.

When Richard Savoy opened Green Apple in 1967, the store occupied a small 750 sq. ft. space. By 2009, Mulvihill and co-owner Kevin Ryan had grown the store to 8,000 sq. ft. Under their ownership, the store’s maze of shelves and nooks have become a destination for San Franciscans and visitors alike. In 2014, the bookstore was recognized as PW’s Bookstore of the Year.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, dozens of independent bookstores have made similar decisions to Green Apple’s, adjusting their spaces as needed, to ensure long-term profitability. Boston’s I Am Books went entirely to e-commerce while Copper Dog Books in Beverly, Mass. expanded. Other stores, including Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, Md. and Inkwood Books in Haddonfield, N.J. moved locations. In San Francisco, Blackbird books is moving, as is Booksmith.

Mulvihill wrote that the store’s adjustment is part of the “continuing evolution of Green Apple to the ever-changing bookselling landscape.”

“We think the right-sized Green Apple Books will continue to be a destination-worthy bookstore, and we look forward to our 100th Anniversary party on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2067,” he wrote. “Save the date.”