An extremely cool staff who can help you find almost any book in print is one of the best reasons to shop at the Booksmith -- especially when you've dealt with the vacant stares or out-and-out rudeness of the employees at your local chain bookstore one too many times. The Booksmith has been a Haight-Ashbury fixture since 1976, and hosts a huge number of some of the city's most interesting readings and author appearances -- Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, James Elroy, and Isabelle Allende have all stopped off here. (The store publishes its own line of author trading cards featuring those who've read there.) A few years back, the Booksmith also hosted a wedding, and in 1994 science fiction author Harlan Ellison famously wrote a short story while sitting in its front window. If you so desire, you can even buy books at the Booksmith's Web site -- its database includes more than a million titles -- though why you'd want to when you can visit the store is beyond us.