Shop Small Spotlight: Skylight Books

Photo of the inside of Skylight Books
Skylight Books | Photo by Timothy Norris

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Skylight Books in Los Feliz is a pillar of its historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Often included on best bookstore lists around the world, it’s a gathering place for readings, book signings and meet ups, a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. For over 20 years, the bookstore has supported emerging writers and artists, as well as hosted more established luminaries like Patti Smith, Miranda July and David Mitchell. Quietly commanding the block with two spaces, the original storefront, and an all-arts annex, there’s even a small theater next door that borrows its name. Skylight is owned and run by writers, and Emmy Award winning actor, Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent).

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Skylight Books Arts Annex | Photo by Timothy Norris

"We Are Book Detectives"

“Booksellers are cut from a rare, weird, and colorful cloth,” explains Skylight manager Steve Salardino. “A place like Skylight Books is really only as good as the people that are deciding which titles to keep in stock. We are book detectives trying to figure which snake handling ethno-musicologist was just talking about his new detective novel on NPR. We are interested in creativity, making things, watching how others do things, talking about the process. Many of our book sellers write, play music, make art.”

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Skylight Books | Photo by Timothy Norris

"An Antidote to Noise"

If you need a recommendation of what to read, the staff, identified on the website by hand drawn portraits, keep a running list of favorites in their individual profiles for those who prefer analog, you can find quick reviews on hand made display cards throughout the store, or, hey, just ask. Even in the middle of a holiday rush, you’ll find the staff accommodating and friendly while the resident cat, Franny holds court.

“Storytelling itself is a kind of technology,” Says Salardino. “A book is an important tool. You can read it without electricity! As people are almost continuously bombarded with backlit screens full of confusing half-truths and targeted advertising, we look for more space and peace. A book is often an antidote to the noise that comes with living in these times.”

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Franny the cat at Skylight Books | Photo by Timothy Norris

Strike Up a Conversation

Strike up a conversation or skim the latest titles underneath the huge indoor ficus tree. There is a unique selection of children’s books, including reissued classics like Frog and Toad, as well as contemporary titles like the Graffiti Coloring Book and “What is Punk?” Cards and totebags are fun souvenirs celebrating books, the neighborhood and landmarks, made by locals whenever possible. The prime location on Vermont allows you to take your new reading material to Griffith Park and hike to a quiet spot, see a movie next door at the Los Feliz Theater or get a coffee and an authentic French omelette at Figaro down the street.

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Skylight Books | Photo by Timothy Norris

"Los Angeles Informs & Inspires Us"

“We love being part of the L.A. literary community,”” says Salardino. “Los Angeles informs and inspires us so much — the beach, the mountains, the way the sunlight settles. The city is a network, like the invisible lines between the stars that form the constellations. All of us 'stars' connect to create this community.”

With the addition of more than 90,000 Los Angeles area locations to the American Express network over the past two years*, Card Members now have more places than ever before to Shop Small in Los Angeles. Check out our Shop Small Map to learn where you can Shop Small with you American Express Card and more!

*Based on internal comparison of American Express small merchant locations in December 2013 to American Express all merchant locations in December 2015.