After hitting the Lovely: Ladies of Animation exhibit at the Center Stage Gallery, my brother and I continued our trek from Burbank to downtown L.A. to see what he had promised me was THE bookstore. This was a bold claim since I had spent three years in New York featuring The Strand. But I had seen L.A.’s most famous bookstore, The Last Bookstore, on several Pinterest and Tumblr lists about must-see bookstores. So we paid the outrageous L.A. parking fees and entered the bookstore.
I was not disappointed. The Last Bookstore was an incredible place. You walk into this huge open room with big, white columns stretching from the floor to the ceiling. It almost has a warehouse feel—one big open room with bookshelves scattered about. The building must have been a bank or a hotel back in the day because several doors resemble that of old-fashioned elevator or bank vault doors. As the largest used bookstore in California, The Last Bookstore contains hundreds and hundreds of books, some new and others used. There are classics, new releases, and everything in between. Several fixtures, such as a paneling overhead and the checkout counter are even made of books. And if one travels upstairs, there are even more surprises in store—including a rather large mammoth head!
Upstairs there are books organized by color, a tunnel made of books, but also small studios where artists work, sell their artwork, and interact with bookstore customers. There are sculptures made out of books and modern abstract paintings. You can also find old vinyl records and comic books. There are truly many treasures waiting to be found at The Last Bookstore. It is an exciting destination for any bookworm. But I think the real charm about the store is not just the books, but the atmosphere.
The Last Bookstore truly has an “L.A.” feel—from the open warehouse building to the eclectic art upstairs. The building itself is an odd mixture of a classic, old-fashioned era long since gone, and modernity. The modern takes nest in the old, not overturning it, but turning it into something new and hip, much like the city itself. The records and art give the store a unique, hipster feel. But in the end, I’m not sure if you can really put a finger on what makes The Last Bookstore so L.A. It just is. Like the city it calls it’s home, The Last Bookstore is an metropolitan enigma full of promise.