In a time when countless independent bookstores were closing up shop, Paula Foley decided to do just the opposite. Foley opened Noe Valley’s Folio Books (3957 24th St.) in November of 2013, and has managed to grow the store into a neighborhood staple in the three years since.
“Since we’re a newer store, Amazon and e-books have always been part of the landscape for us,” Foley says. “We factored that in when we decided to go into business. Our only strategy is to focus on serving the neighborhood, and so far that’s working out well.”
Foley wasn’t new to bookselling when she opened Folio Books (which joins the food-focused Omnivore Books on the Noe Valley bookstore scene).
She’d worked in independent bookstores for about a dozen years already, though her background before that point was distinctly San Franciscan: she was a computer programmer.
So, how did Foley make the leap to bookseller?
“I was a shy introvert who grew up in an isolated neighborhood in a small mountain town, and my parents read and took me to the library,” Foley said. From that point on, she was hooked on literature. The next step was to find the right community to become a part of.
“I really love neighborhood bookselling, and Noe Valley is a wonderful spot for that,” Foley said.
Folio Books is a cozy yet well-stocked store that hosts about 10,000 books of all genres, including a robust children’s section. Neighborhood passersby may have also noticed their rotating window displays, which go beyond the typical holiday-centric showcases. Some of last year’s displays included books about writing for November’s National Novel Writing Month, a showcase on local authors, and a display highlighting LGBTQ stories for Pride.
And the staff doesn’t let limited space stop them from hosting frequent events. “We put on events to build community, which is a big part of our mission,” Foley said. “We host a couple of community speaker series, have events with local authors, social evenings like coloring nights, pajama party story times, and a book club for 8- to 12-year-olds.”
In 2017, Foley is excited about new types of events they’ll be hosting for the community: local author open mic nights (the first is scheduled for January 24th) and a Sunday afternoon club for older kids starting in February.
And, of course, there are a variety of books that Foley is excited to read and stock at Folio Books. “I’m personally excited that local writer Andrew Sean Greer has a new novel coming out in July, and that David Sedaris has a compilation of his diaries coming out in June,” Foley said, looking ahead to what this year has in store.