There is nothing more inspiring for a reader than a really good bookstore. While box chains such as Barnes and Noble have their place, there is something to be said for an independent store with personality, great reading choices, and selected extras that make the visit more like a trip to Disneyland than an ordinary shopping excursion. The Los Angeles area is blessed with bookshops that meet these requirements with flying colors, and any visitor to the area would do well to check out some of the wonderful choices.
The obvious downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) choice is The Last Bookstore. Located at 453 South Spring Street, the store is a block and a half south of the Pershing Square Metro Station. There is an entire floor filled with new and used books; the well-curated selection will have readers amassing a pile of choices in a few precious minutes. In addition, there is a section filled with vinyl records, and another one with graphic novels. On the second story of the building, there is an entire room with fantasy and science fiction choices; in addition, there is a labyrinth built of books and a ‘$1 each’ area. The rest of the second floor contains the Spring Arts Collective gallery shops, including a small yarn store for readers who are also knitters. At the end of May, an annex for rare books will be added.
In the Pasadena area, Vroman’s Bookstore claims to be the oldest and largest independent bookstore west of the Rocky Mountains. Founded in 1894, the store has been in continuous operation, and now has three locations from which to visit. The original store, at 695 E Colorado, is a two-story behemoth filled with inspiring selections. One-quarter of the second floor is taken up with a children’s book area; this story also contains a large selection of cards, soaps and lotions, and Vera Bradley purses. The bottom floor lures the visitor with inspiring book selections, a large art and photography area, equally large travel and cooking areas, and a stationery section. In front of the store, there is a magazine area and a small coffee house.
In the mood for specialty bookstores? In the Redondo Beach area, Mysterious Galaxy can be found at 2810 Artesia Boulevard. A satellite of a San Diego store, the Redondo Beach location nonetheless provides the Los Angeles visitor with a space dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, and suspense. Across town, Skylight Books at 1818 Vermont in Los Angeles proper has an artistic bent, stocking literary journals, poetry chapbooks, and international titles as well as the normal fiction/nonfiction selections. Two doors down from the main store, there is an annex which focuses on magazines, the arts, and graphic novels.
There are other independent bookstores in the Los Angeles area; individual profiles of each can be found on the Indie Store Finder at IndieBound.org. Whether a traveler visits one of the stores profiled above or visits a different one, s/he is sure to have a wonderful time exploring, as well as a treasured souvenir of the Los Angeles visit.