On a clear day, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.

That's what the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association can boast about its new headquarters at the Presidio, a renovated former military base on the edge of San Francisco that housed the 1915 World's Fair and, yes, faces the bridge that is a visible signature for the City by the Bay.

NCIBA executive director Hut Landon said the organization decided to relocate the office from Marin County to San Francisco last summer—for a number of reasons. First, its lease in Corte Madera was up and it faced a 30% rent increase. Also, Landon, who gradually evolved from bookstore owner to full-time executive director over the course of his six-plus years associated with NCIBA, closed his store in Marin last January. Plus, a location in the city of San Francisco makes the organization eligible for city grants for its annual Books By the Bay festival. And, lastly, the space at the Presidio is larger and makes the group's headquarters more accessible.

"For the first time the office can truly function as an in-person resource center, gathering place, meeting room and more," he told members. Then, with the sponsorship of Bookpeople, the Bay Area—based wholesaler, Landon invited members in to check out the new digs themselves at an open house party this month.

Members seemed very pleased. "It's amazing when I think about what it was like 25 years ago when we were meeting in each other's houses and living rooms," commented Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, located just across the freeway from the old NCIBA location in Corte Madera.

As the bookselling landscape evolved, so did the membership of the trade association serving Northern California. Nine years ago when the NCIBA added the "Independent" to its name, it made a stand as a rallying force in the independent bookselling community and its membership rallied behind it. Now, it stands as one of the largest and most active regional trade associations in publishing.

Landon told PW that approximately 200 bookstores are members (the actual head count is higher than the number of stores), and there are another 250 associate members, e.g., sales reps and wholesaler employees. With the new office he said the association hopes to expand its role as a resource center for its members.

Located in a converted army barracks, the headquarters has space enough for four offices and a large main meeting and greeting room. Using that large room, Landon hopes to expand the educational programs usually run at the fall regional show and spring meetings. Some initiatives NCIBA is focusing on are in education, such as "exit and enter" strategies for bookselling—information for an aging bookseller planning for retirement and educational programs (possibly with community colleges) to get younger people interested in a bookselling career. "I think there are people out there who'd like to do this and we can hook 'em," said Landon.

At the end of the month, NCIBA president Karen Pennington, a buyer at Kepler's Books & Magazines in Menlo Park, said the board would be on retreat and will no doubt discuss the educational programs, expanding its membership and making the most out of the new headquarters. "I'd like to get the library stocked and get the place painted," she said.

NCIBA will have an open door policy when it comes to bookish types. Landon wants to extend an invitation to publisher reps, authors on the road or booksellers traveling in the Bay Area to come by the NCIBA and use its "visitor office," complete with Internet and phone privileges. Those who accept the invitation could find themselves in good company—and not just Landon's and his right hand Joyce Ripp's company, either. Peter Lucas signed a deal to move a production company to the Presidio.

NCIBA is now located at: The Presidio, 37 Graham St., P.O. Box 29169, San Francisco, Calif. 94129-0169; (415) 561-7686.