San Francisco Landmark City Lights Bookstore Raises $400k, Will Stay In Business

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The iconic City Lights bookstore in San Francisco has apparently avoided a shutdown, at least for now, raising more than $400k out of a goal of $300k in a campaign that saw more than 8,000 people donate.

Elaine Katzenberger, the publisher and CEO of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, claimed that the pandemic shutdown of the business since March 16 caused its cash reserves to “quickly dwindle.” The staff has been receiving full pay and healthcare since that date, but the store had no income, and thus was facing ruin.

“I want to reassure you that we’re doing everything in our power to keep City Lights intact, and to position this beloved institution to play a vital role in what is for now a very uncertain future,” said the message from Katzenberger on GoFundMe.  “We know how much we’re all going to need this place again, this home away from home where we can find each other once more, in person and in books.

City Lights was founded in 1953 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one of the members of the Beat movement. Located in San Francisco’s North Beach, the store was the publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem Howl.

The store has remained a literary and community hub, hosting readings, book signings and other events.


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