Cody's Books

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Cody's Books
TypePrivate subsidiary
FoundedBerkeley, California (1956)
FounderFred Cody & Pat Cody
Key people
OwnerIBC Publishing Group

Cody's Books (1956–2008) was an independent bookstore based in Berkeley, California. It "was a pioneer in bookselling, bringing the paperback revolution to Berkeley, fighting censorship, and providing a safe harbor from tear gas directed at anti-Vietnam War protesters throughout the 1960s and 1970s."[1]


The restrooms at the Telegraph Avenue store, equipped with blackboards and chalk

The first store opened in 1956 on Euclid Avenue in Berkeley, California. It was founded by Fred (1916–1983) and Pat (1923–2010) Cody. It moved to a larger location on Telegraph Avenue in 1960 and moved to another Telegraph Avenue location in 1965. In 1968, "Cody's served as a first-aid station […] when anti-war protesters were tear gassed and clubbed just outside its Telegraph Avenue doors […] the store's employees were tending the wounded – anti-war protesters teargassed and clubbed by the police and the National Guard as protests broke out on Telegraph Avenue."[2][3] In the early 1970s, Mario Savio worked as a clerk at the Telegraph Avenue store.[4]

In 1977, the Codys sold the store to Andy Ross, who owned it until 2006.[5]

Cody's was best known for its extensive selection of literary, political, and scholarly titles.

On February 28, 1989, unknown persons threw a firebomb through the window of the store. It was thought that this was in response to the prominent display of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, which had been banned by a fatwa by Iranian clerics one month prior. An undetonated pipe bomb was subsequently discovered in the store. In response the staff unanimously voted to keep the book on display despite the attack and the increasing willingness of chain bookstores to bow to pressure to withdraw it.[6]

Cody's pioneered a well-regarded author-reading series. Some prominent authors and notables who appeared at Cody's were: Tom Robbins, Norman Mailer, Ken Kesey, Alice Walker, Allen Ginsberg, Maurice Sendak, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, and Salman Rushdie.

In the 1980s, Cody's was a plaintiff in several anti-trust lawsuits charging that independent book sellers were discriminated against in favor of chain stores. Cody's owner, Andy Ross, was a prominent spokesperson supporting independent businesses against chain stores and Internet retailers.

Neighborhood booksellers[edit]

Cody's was a core bookseller among a coterie of independent booksellers, which included Moe's Books, located nearly next door to Cody's, Pendragon/Pellucidar/Pegasus, Shakespeare & Co., Black Oak Books, Diesel, and others, all located in the region from north Berkeley to north Oakland. This region includes the University of California, Berkeley. Together they were members of a significant regional supporter of independent bookselling, The Northern California Independent Bookseller's Association, or NCIBA.

Moves and closure[edit]

The Telegraph store was the flagship store until it closed in 2006, sparking a controversy in the local press over the cause. One explanation given for the closure was that it was caused by pressure from corporate chains like Borders.[7] As of June 2015 the location was still vacant.

The Cody's San Francisco location closed in 2007 for a similar reason.[8][9] Cody's was sold to Japanese book distributor Yohan, Inc. in September 2006.

In March 2008, the last remaining store moved from 4th Street to its final location on Shattuck Avenue due to a rent increase. Financial pressures forced the closure of the store for good on June 20, 2008.[10][11] The 2008 PBS TV documentary Paperback Dreams chronicles the related histories of Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, California and Cody's Books.[12]



  • Euclid Avenue, Berkeley, 1956–1960
  • Telegraph Avenue and Dwight, Berkeley, 1960–1965
  • 2454 Telegraph Avenue at Haste Street, Berkeley, 1965[13] – July 10, 2006
  • 2 Stockton Street, San Francisco, 2005–2007[14]
  • 1730 4th St., Berkeley 1997–March 2008
  • 2201 Shattuck Ave., Downtown Berkeley April 1, 2008 – June 19, 2008 then a final sale starting from August 14–August 22 or August 23, 2008

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Bookstores". Paperback Dreams. KQED Public Television. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2016. (archived)
  2. ^ Herscher, Elaine (June 27, 1996). "Berkeley Celebrates 40-Year Love Affair With Cody's Books". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. pp. C–1. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  3. ^ Glendinning, Chellis (May 14, 2019). In the Company of Rebels: A Generational Memoir of Bohemians, Deep Heads, and History Makers. New Village Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-61332-096-9.
  4. ^ Rosenfeld, Seth (October 10, 2004). "Mario Savio's FBI Odyssey". San Francisco Chronicle.
  5. ^ "Andy Ross Literary Agency".
  6. ^ "Giving to the University Library – UC Berkeley Library". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Rubenstein, Steve (May 9, 2006). "Cody's Books to close flagship store in Berkeley". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. ^ Sarkar, Pia (April 6, 2007). "Cody's Books to leave S.F. — 'It just didn't work'". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. ^ Derrick. "Cody's Books on Union Square". Archived from the original on May 22, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  10. ^ "Goodbye Message".
  11. ^ "Cody's Books Closes Permanently".
  12. ^ "Paperback Dreams".
  13. ^ Taylor, Michael (2008). Cody's, landmark Berkeley bookstore, closes.
  14. ^ "Cody's to close Stockton Street bookstore". The San Francisco Examiner. April 6, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°51′57″N 122°15′32″W / 37.8658°N 122.2589°W / 37.8658; -122.2589