Since 1976, Dark Carnival Bookstore has cast a long, inviting shadow for the East Bay fans of genre fiction. Its two jam-packed floors of around 40,000 books (both new and used) from the fields of mystery, science fiction, and, especially, fantasy and horror, stand almost unmatched among Bay Area bookstores in the range of material. From the latest junky pulp thriller to rare — and possibly signed — masterpieces by such highbrow masters as Stephen King, Peter Straub, Jonathan Carroll, and Thomas Disch, Dark Carnival will keep genre enthusiasts browsing for hours. There’s also a great selection of non-fiction, including art books. For non-readers and gift hunters, the store brims with a cornucopia of tacky toys and gift items ranging from the Librarian Action Figure to giant blow-up monster dolls. If you’re looking for party favors, this is where you go. The bookstore also hosts author readings and signings (most recently, Thomas Perry, best-selling author of Strip). Watch for the flying black bat outside.