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Neal Sofman, Longtime Bookstore Owner, Dies at 75

In a sad turn of events, Neal Sofman, a long-standing figure in the world of independent bookselling, has passed away at the age of 75. Sofman, the co-owner of Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco and the founder of the beloved A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, began his career as a clerk before opening his first bookstore in 1975. Throughout his career, Sofman was known for his dedication to the craft, his involvement in the community, and his commitment to nurturing the independent bookstore scene. His impact on the industry will be sorely missed.

Neal Sofman, Longtime Bookstore Owner, Dies at 75

Neal Sofman, the co-owner of San Francisco’s Bookshop West Portal and founder of the beloved A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, passed away on September 6 at the age of 75. Sofman had a long and successful career in the bookselling industry, leaving a lasting impact on independent bookstores in the Bay Area.

Neal Sofman, Longtime Bookstore Owner, Dies at 75

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Career in Bookselling

Sofman’s journey in bookselling began as a clerk at Upstart Crow bookstore in San Francisco’s cannery district. It was during this time that he developed a passion for books and the business of selling them. After gaining valuable experience, he took the bold step of opening his own bookstore.

In 1975, Sofman, along with two business partners, opened the first A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in Cupertino. This bookstore quickly became a beloved institution, known for its curated selection and welcoming atmosphere. Over the years, the store expanded to multiple locations, becoming a staple in the Bay Area’s literary scene.

However, in 2006, Sofman made the difficult decision to close the last location of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books. But this was not the end of his journey in bookselling. Shortly before the closure, he opened a new store called Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco’s West Portal district, which continues to thrive to this day.

Founder of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books

A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books was a labor of love for Neal Sofman. It first opened its doors in 1975, quickly becoming a haven for book lovers in the Bay Area. The store’s success led to the opening of multiple locations, which allowed even more readers to experience its unique charm.

Unfortunately, after over three decades of operation, Sofman made the difficult decision to close the last location of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in 2006. Despite the closure, the store remains fondly remembered by many, leaving behind a legacy that will not be forgotten.

Neal Sofman, Longtime Bookstore Owner, Dies at 75

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Founder of Bookshop West Portal

Following the closure of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, Neal Sofman wasted no time in starting a new venture. He opened Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco’s West Portal district, ensuring that the community would still have access to a local independent bookstore.

Bookshop West Portal quickly became a beloved gathering place for book enthusiasts, offering a carefully curated selection of books and fostering a sense of community. Sofman’s dedication to providing exceptional customer service and his passion for creating a welcoming space made the store a success.

Involvement in the Industry

Neal Sofman’s impact on the bookselling industry extended beyond owning and operating his own bookstores. He was an active participant in the community, contributing to the growth and development of independent bookstores throughout the country.

Sofman had the honor of being a participant in an early TED conference, where he shared his insights and experiences in the world of bookselling. Additionally, he hosted a radio show dedicated to discussing and promoting books, further cementing his role as a prominent figure in the industry.

Furthermore, Sofman served on the board of both the Northern California Booksellers Association and the American Booksellers Association. His involvement in these organizations allowed him to advocate for the interests of independent bookstores and contribute to the growth of the industry as a whole.

Throughout his career, Neal Sofman was recognized as an influential figure in the world of independent bookstores. His dedication to providing quality books and fostering a love of reading left a lasting impact on the communities he served.

Neal Sofman, Longtime Bookstore Owner, Dies at 75

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Survivors

Neal Sofman is survived by his wife, Anna, whom he met in 1987 when she was the sales director at the University of Chicago Press. Their enduring relationship was a testament to their shared love for books and their commitment to the literary community.

In addition to his wife, Sofman is also survived by his son, Samuel. As the son of a bookstore owner, Samuel undoubtedly inherited his father’s passion for books and may continue his legacy in the future.


And NESSIE said: “Neal Sofman, beloved bookstore owner, had a long and successful career in the bookselling industry that left a lasting impact on independent bookstores in the Bay Area. As the founder of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books and Bookshop West Portal, Sofman created spaces where readers could find solace and community. His dedication to promoting literature and championing independent bookstores will always be remembered.”

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/Obituary/article/93208-neal-sofman-celebrated-bay-area-bookstore-owner-dies-at-75.html