A Remarkable Resource for Architectural Books

William Stout Architectural Books carriers over 20,000 titles in the fields of architecture, art, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, furniture and interior design, and landscape architecture.

William Stout Architectural Books is a vital resource to locate hard-to-find architectural books. Photo courtesy of William Stout Books


Published: December, 2017


William Stout Architectural Books carriers over 20,000 titles in the fields of architecture, art, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, furniture and interior design, and landscape architecture.


For over 30 years—20 in its current location—it has been a vital resource for architecture and design books, carrying American and international titles, both in and out of print.


The origins of the bookstore date back to when Bill Stout was a practicing architect and would travel to Europe to locate hard-to-find European architectural books. His colleagues and friends would ask him to bring back additional copies, and thus the shop was born.


About 10 years ago, Stout started William Stout Publishers, which puts out a few books a year—mainly on architecture and landscape in the Bay Area—but also including books on architectural theory and reprints of important, out-of-print titles.


In a recent interview with Bay Crossings, Stout shared some of his favorite titles and authors.


Bay Crossings: Could you give a bit of history to our readers?


Stout: Over the years I have both sold books in my bookshop at 804 Montgomery Street in Jackson Square and published books on architecture and design as well. With the advent of the internet we have developed our website with most of our inventory included. This way we touch a larger audience. I stopped publishing books in 2015 and put my emphasis on selling the more obscure and hard-to-find titles, usually from Latin America, Europe or Asia.


I also have a very large selection of rare and out-of-print books that we sell well on the internet. Many of these titles are located in our warehouse and shop in Richmond. These would include A.D.A. Edita in Tokyo, Arquine Publishers in Mexico City and Unit Publishers in London, to name a few.


BC: Do you have any recommendations for our audience?


Stout: There are some titles that may be of interest to your ferry riders, some on the Bay Area and some of general interest in architecture. We don’t have a wide variety of guides or informational books on the Bay Area. Many are out of print or haven’t been written.


One of my favorite books though is Saltscapes: The Kite Aerial Photography of Cris Benton. This book includes dazzling colors, subtle textures, vivid patterns and captivating stories of the San Francisco Bay salt ponds. Another classic is Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas. In it, Rebecca reinvents the traditional atlas. Across an urban grid of just seven by seven miles, Solnit finds seemingly unlimited landmarks and treasures.


Two books by John King of the Chronicle showcase his favorite buildings in Cityscapes, and his reading of the buildings in Cityscapes 2. Donald MacDonald and Ira Nadel’s books on the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge are small books with his drawings and notes on all three.


BC: Is there anything else you’d like to recommend?


Stout: Some lost icons of San Francisco come to life in San Francisco Neon, Survivors and Lost Icons, which has photographs by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan and notes by Tom Downs and Eric Lynxwiler.


The Sea Ranch by Donlyn Lyndon, which is in its second edition, covers 50 years of a remarkable project. There’s also a great book on the Oakland Museum called Gift of Architecture. The book has two parts: Part one is the original development of the museum, and part two is the renovation by Mark Cavagnero.


Steve Oliver’s wonderful project The Oliver Ranch documents the art ranch located in Sonoma County that he and his wife, Nancy, have developed since 1985. The book and a visit to the ranch give insight into one of the great art experiences in the Bay Area. And one last recommendation is a book by Will Jones called How to Read Modern Building. It’s a crash course in architecture of the modern era. In drawings and photographs, the reader gets a visual vocabulary of current building.


Follow Paul Duclos’ Cultural Currents online with his blog at: www.duclosculturalcurrents.com