A Change of Hobbit

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Name: A Change of Hobbit
Date(s): 1971-1991
Founder: Sherry Gottlieb
Type: brick and mortar bookstore
Fandom: science fiction, fantasy
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A Change of Hobbit was a bookstore in San Francisco, California from 1972 to 1991. It was one of the first science fiction, fantasy and horror bookstores established, and was a significant part of these fandoms generally, and in Southern California particularly.

a 1977 ad for "A Change of Hobbit"

There was also a "Change of Hobbit" in Los Angeles. Years of operation is unknown.

"A Change of Hobbit" bookstore hosted numerous events, including, famously, Harlan Ellison in its front window, writing a story in public view, over the course of a week.[1]

The store was also a main stop on book tours for such authors as Anne Rice and Ray Bradbury.

A fan remembers:

I spent most of my childhood hunkered down on a footstool reading SF in A Change of Hobbit since I didn't have any spending money...and I'd just once again ditched my dance class next door. haha. Poor mom. She really wanted me to be graceful.

Instead, I snuck into "the hobbit shop," as I called it, and watched Ray Bradbury sitting at a typewriter in the window. I got handed free xeroxed copies of short stories by famous sci fi authors in draft stages (I still have one by Larry Niven) or zines... I read used books w/o paying a penny, basically using the shop as my personal library, and not a peep out of the staff about kicking me out. I met Harlan Ellison once, and asked him to sign a book to my friend Tana as "frogchild." (that's what we called each other, I tried to explain, totally flustered). "Dear Tana," he inscribed the copy of Deathbird Stories I'd bought her, "This asshole told me to sign this 'to frogchild,' but I told her to go fuck herself. Love, Harlan." I was 11 at the time.

A Change of Hobbit had a lacquered sting ray on the wall that looked like an alien, and in fact, a sign below it said, "From Area 51." It really did look like an alien, but even though I was totally wee when I first saw it, I kind of figured if someone had captured a real alien, it wouldn't be hanging on the wall in a book store.

Even such an incredible book store.[2]


  1. Strange Wine, book by Harlan Ellison, Wikipedia, accessed October 29, 2016
  2. "personal recollections of Esteefee, User: MPH private email, October 29, 2016, used on Fanlore with permission"