The Book Lover's Guide To Los Angeles

The Last Bookstore | Photo courtesy of Karol Franks, Flickr

Los Angeles boasts dozens of independent bookstores that can give you the scoop on the literary history of Los Angeles, selling rare volumes, special-interest books — travel, food, art, film and more — as well as best-selling general fiction and nonfiction.

Downtown / LA Metro

Caravan Book Store is the last of the bookshops along what was once known as Book Seller’s Row. Situated across from the Los Angeles Central Public Library, Caravan specializes in rare and antique books on California history, Americana, voyages and other historic subjects. 550 S. Grand Ave. tel. 213.626.9944

Fashion Bookstore at California Mart is a sleek bookshop specializing in apparel-industry books and magazines — the largest literary collection of its kind in the western United States. Its clientele ranges from junior high girls to A-list fashion designers. The huge inventory includes American and foreign publications in all areas of fashion — from illustration and design to costume and retailing. 110 E. 9th St. Tel. 213.622.5663

The Last Bookstore began in 2005 in a Downtown LA loft and moved to its 10,000 square-foot location in 2011. The Last Bookstore recently expanded another 6,100 sq. ft. by opening the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore on the mezzanine level, with over 100,000 books priced at one dollar each! The Last Bookstore buys, trades, and sells used and new books, LPs, DVDs, and CDs. The Last Bookstore also host readings, concerts, plays, film screenings, and more. 453 S. Spring St., Ground Fl. (Entrance on 5th) Tel. 213.488.0599

MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art) Grand Avenue features an extensive stock of books and catalogues focused on modern and contemporary art produced since 1940. 250 S. Grand Ave. Tel. 213.621.1710

REDCAT Books is located inside the lounge at REDCAT (the Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theatre at the Walt Disney Concert Hall). It is “a bookstall evocative of European theater bookstalls.” The bookstore features about 400 titles, plenty of seating and a liquor bar. S. Hope Street and 2nd Street. Tel. 213.237.2800

Hollywood

Larry Edmunds Bookshop has a staggering inventory of 500,000+ movie photographs, 6,000+ original movie posters and 20,000+ motion picture and theater books. In business for more than 70 years, the shelves hold biographies as well as books on film and theater history, acting, animation and special effects. 6644 Hollywood Blvd. Tel. 323.463.3273

Westside

Book Soup, located in the heart of the Sunset Strip, is famous for ceiling-high bookshelves, a celebrity clientele and author signings. In addition to in-depth fiction and nonfiction titles, it specializes in art, film and music as well as books from university, international and small presses. 8818 Sunset Blvd. Tel. 310.659.3110

Dawson's Book Shop has been selling books since 1905 and is the oldest continuously operating bookstore in Los Angeles. The focus of this cozy brick-lined shop is rare and out-of-print books on California history, Western Americana and photography. Its collection also includes manuscripts and printed ephemera, and it often hosts discussions by prominent Los Angeles-based authors. 535 N. Larchmont Blvd. Tel. 323.469.2186

Hennessey + Ingalls is the largest art and architecture bookstore in the western United States. This is where architects, artists, collectors and librarians head to browse and swoon, and it’s where many Hollywood art directors come for inspiration. In addition to its flagship location in Santa Monica, there is a satellite location at Space 15Twenty in Hollywood. 214 Wilshire Blvd., Tel. 310.458.9074; 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Tel. 323.466.1256

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has two gift shop/bookstores on its main plaza. Both offer extensive collections of art books, supplemented with relevant book titles during special exhibits. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Tel. 323.857.6000

Traveler's Bookcase is located on a busy stretch on 3rd Street, just east of La Cienega. Its shelves are stocked with bestsellers as well as hard-to-find books. 8375 W. Third St. 323.655.0575

San Fernando Valley

Storyopolis is a Los Angeles favorite for children’s books as well as illustrated art from children’s books. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld have been known to buy “book bushels” — baskets filled with themed books. Storyopolis also carries antiquarian children’s books, including first editions by J.R. Tolkein and Roald Dahl. 16740 Ventura Blvd. Tel. 818.990.7600

Pasadena

Distant Lands Travel Bookstore and Outfitters is focused on offering both basic and somewhat esoteric travel books. Its collection can guide travelers to destinations as close as Southern California and as far away as Tibet. Occasionally Rick Steves — the rock star of travel books — comes to speak. 56 N. Raymond Ave. Tel. 626.449.3220

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens features a gift shop/bookstore filled with books for adults and children on British and American literature, art, photography, flowers and gardening, supplemented with relevant titles during special exhibitions. 1151 Oxford Rd. Tel. 626.405.2100

Vroman's Bookstore is the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California. They’ve been selling books in Pasadena since 1894 – almost as long as the Rose Parade has been around. Vroman’s boasts more than 85,000 titles on all subjects — from its hip new “The Edge” section to the vast upstairs children’s book section. It frequently hosts author signings. 695 E. Colorado Blvd. Tel. 626.449.5320

Neighboring Regions

Eso Won Books is located in the heart of the historic Leimert Park neighborhood. Eso Won (African for “water over rocks”) first opened at Crenshaw and Slauson before moving to its current 3,200 square-foot location in 2006. Eso Won has an inventory that focuses on African American authors and subject matter, with a selection that includes new and used fiction and nonfiction, coffee table books, children's books, mystery and periodicals. Book signings have featured famous authors such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou and Walter Mosley. 4331 Degnan Blvd. Tel. 323.290.1048