Established in 1981 in San Francisco, we specialize in books and ephemeral materials related to the history of Labor and other social movements, including the struggles for Black and Chicano equality, the Gay liberation movement, Feminism, and Asian-American activism, as well as the Far Right. In recent years Bolerium has expanded into materials in non-western languages, and has also placed more emphasis on ephemera, with tens of thousands of original leaflets, pamphlets, and posters in stock. Bolerium is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA).
While our entire catalogued stock is searchable on our website (www.bolerium.com), we also have a large amount of material in storage and “in process” that can be searched for items of interest. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to consult about your areas of interest.
We are now now open by appointment. Please call or email to arrange an appropriate time to visit, based on your interests, our staffing levels, and our capacity limits. Be aware, certain areas are no longer accessible for browsing so you may be advised to prepare a list from our on-line listings. We're located at 2141 Mission, suite 300, we are in the heart of the Mission District and only a block and a half from the 16th / Mission BART station.
A brief introduction to the Bolerium crew:
John Durham, original co-founder and senior owner: A former graduate student of economics and an activist in the struggle against the Vietnam War and for gay rights, John left school to establish Bolerium in 1981 as part of a group of five that rapidly shrank to saner proportions. He has a rich background in labor history, with particular emphasis in the Trotskyist movement to which he formerly belonged. Bolerium’s unusual blend of specialties – including both radical politics and gay studies – derives ultimately from his experience as a political organizer dispatched to work with the gay liberation movement in San Francisco.
Alexander Akin, Ph.D., whose first international trip was a visit to North Korea at the age of 15, first started part-time at Bolerium while finishing a PhD in Chinese history at Harvard University. After discovering that academia pays even worse than the book trade, he returned to Bolerium in 2011 and became a co-owner in 2013. Melding his academic interests with his background in the anti-nuclear and environmental movement, he has expanded the bookstore’s purview to include Asian language materials, while also cataloging materials related to labor and radical history. He has published a number of articles in the fields of East Asian cartography, cultural exchange and numismatics.
Sue Englander, Ph.D., formerly an editor with the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford, specializes in materials related to the Civil Rights movement and the Women’s movement. She works at Bolerium when not teaching US History at San Francisco City College and SF State.
Lawrence “Rocky” Heck, active in the book trade since 1975, has also worked in theater organizations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He is our specialist in theater, gay studies, and the arts, with a sideline in early gay pulp fiction novel
Jay Kinney, a prominent underground comic artist of the 1970s (Anarchy Comics, Bijou Funnies, etc.) and author of The Masonic Myth (HarperOne, 2009), is our specialist in underground newspapers and counterculture publications. PM Press has published a paperback anthology of Anarchy Comics.
Joe Marchione, who ran Valhalla Books in the same building as Bolerium for several years, came to bookselling from the restaurant industry. Aside from his work cataloging and photographing books, his skills in presentation are now applied to the careful packing of Bolerium’s shipments.
David Park, formerly an independent bookseller, has five decades of experience in the book trade; he ran a books-for-prisoners program for more than a decade out of Bolerium’s storeroom. He now works part-time, as he approaches completion of his magnum opus, the extensively annotated (and entirely forged) collected poetry of Lee Harvey Oswald.