Frequently Asked Questions

I'm looking for a particular book that I don't see on your website.
Our website only lists a sliver of what we offer in the bookstore. For questions about a particular book, please contact us directly at 415-362-8193 (dial "0" anytime during the introductory recording to speak with a bookseller). You may also email us, although it will generally take longer to receive a response.

There's a category in your bookstore that I don't see online. Where is it?
Because our website offers only a small segment of the books we have in store, we've combined many of our bookstore sections.

Are City Lights Publications sold at 30% off in the bookstore too or only when I order them online?
It's an online-only discount! If you visit our store, City Lights publications are sold at the full retail price.

I'd like City Lights to carry my book, magazine or zine. How does that work?
If your book or magazine has a national distributor such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram, please send information about your title to us at Attn: Book Buyer, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133.

If you don't have distribution, City Lights selectively accepts self-published zines, chapbooks, and pamphlets on a consignment basis. If you'd like us to consider taking your item in on a consignment basis, you may send one sample copy of your publication to our Consignment Buyer at Attn: City Lights Consignment, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133. Please include your name and email address with your submission, and let us know at what price you'd want us to sell the item. We'll review the sample and respond to you as soon as we can. Please note that City Lights cannot be responsible for returning the sample copy, and will not accept multiple samples of the same item. Please call the store for Consignment Hours if you wish to personally drop off your item.

City Lights does not accept perfect-bound books self-published through iUniverse or similar companies, CDs, or DVDs. Perfect-bound books, CDs, and DVDs submitted to City Lights Consignment for consideration will not be reviewed and will be donated.

Sorry, but City Lights doesn't stock blank journals, calendars, or cards.  

When do I need to place my order to receive it by Christmas?
If you are ordering within the continental United States, orders placed by December 13th will arrive by Christmas using Standard shipping (UPS Ground). If you wish to use expedited shipping, you can order by December 19th. Need it faster? Call us at (415) 362-8193 ext. 22 or e-mail us at to make special arrangements.

For international orders, please be advised that international expedited shipping varies depending on the country and size and weight of item. We can expedite international orders, but the cost will be higher than our normal expedited estimates. Please contact us with all shipping related questions at

I placed an order a while ago and still haven't received it.
All orders are processed within 24-72 hours of receipt. We ship most orders via UPS. Standard orders in the continental United States should arrive within 3-12 business days. Expedited orders should arrive within 2-6 business days. (Check the Shipping Information section to determine how long your order will take to get to you.) The order confirmation e-mailed to you upon purchase will contain UPS tracking information for all orders shipping within the continental United States and all orders sent via expedited service. Please use this information to track your order with UPS, and retain your order confirmation for any queries you may need to make.  (Please note: we cannot provide tracking information for international orders sent via standard service.) If UPS is not able to provide adequate tracking information, please email us (include order date and number) and we will respond as soon as we possibly can.

I have a general question about ordering a book through City Lights.
Please see our Ordering Information page for information on shipping costs and general ordering information. If you're unable to find the answer to your question there, you can contact us at 415-362-8193 (extension 22).

How do I submit a manuscript to City Lights Publishers?
City Lights does NOT accept manuscripts by email. Please note that any submissions or queries will not be accepted; they will simply be deleted. We do, however, accept book proposals sent by snail mail. See the Manuscript Submissions Guidelines for more information.

I sent a book proposal a while ago. When can I expect to hear from you?
As long as you have followed our submission guidelines, including a SASE, you should hear from us within four to six months. We appreciate your patience given our small staff size.

I'd like a copy of a City Lights book for possible review. How do I request a sample?
Please note that not all of the books on our website are published by City Lights. For information on obtaining a copy of a City Lights book for possible review, see our Review Copy Guidelines. For information on obtaining a copy of a City Lights book for possible use in a class, see our Desk & Exam Copy Guidelines.

I'd like to receive permission to reprint, excerpt, or copy material from a City Lights title. What do I do?
Please see our Rights and Permissions page.

I'm looking for a job at City Lights. What do I do?
We have a very small staff and turnover is rare, but you're always welcome to send a cover-letter and resume in to us at Attn: Human Resources, City Lights, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133.

I'm interested in an internship at City Lights Publishers. What do I do?

We offer part-time internships on a rolling basis to help support our publicity and marketing efforts.  Interns will work on a variety of research, administrative, and publicity-related tasks, such as contacting the media and seeking out appropriate web, print, radio, and tv outlets for our authors, coordinating book tours, writing and editing content for our website and blog, producing our podcasts, helping us to strategize social media outreach, assisting at bookstore and off-site events, and other related tasks. 

Our internships are scheduled for one day a week (M-F, no weekends), 4-6 hours, with a 3 month commitment, minimum, and are unpaid.  Students have used the internship for course credit when available, and a number of past interns have gone on to work in the publishing industry.  Our small office size allows for an unusual, hands-on work experience, with direct access to our publishing and bookselling staffs.  Collectively, we have many years of experience in the bookselling and publishing industry, and are happy to offer advice and guidance, and referrals when appropriate, in job pursuits.

Please send a cover-letter and resume to us at Attn. City Lights Publishers Internship, City Lights Publishers, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133 or you can send you materials via email. Please include "Internship" in the subject line.

I'd like to set up an event at City Lights. How does that work?
Generally, City Lights sponsors very few events at the store, and we have to be extremely selective about the readings we have. We usually set up readings 6 months in advance. Please send information about your title and a proposal of the event to us at Attn: Events, City Lights Books, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133.

How early should I plan on coming to a City Lights event?
To get a seat, you'll want to get to the store at least half an hour in advance. For well-known authors, please come to the store at least an hour beforehand.

I bought a paper gift certificate at City Lights that I'd like to redeem online. How do I do that?
The paper gift certificates that we've been selling for decades can only be redeemed at City Lights bookstore, or by snail mail. We've recently switched to selling plastic Gift Cards that can be redeemed in store or online. If you'd like to trade in your gift certificate for a gift card, please contact us here. Unfortunately, for tax purposes, we cannot accept trades of partially-redeemed gift certificates or credit slips for gift cards.

How do I add funds to my City Lights gift card?
You can add to your balance by giving us a call at 415-362-8193.

How can I check my City Lights gift card balance?
You can check your balance right here. Simply enter your gift card number from the back of the card.

I just bought a gift card online, but can't redeem it. Why not?
It may take up to 48 hours for us to activate and send out your card once its been purchased. If you'd like to redeem it earlier, please contact us.

I lost my gift certificate or gift card. How do I redeem it?

Gift certificates and cards cannot be redeemed for cash, and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.



Didn't see your question here? Email us or call us at 415-362-8193.