The Best Specialty Bookstores in Los Angeles
Shop independent bookstores for a wide range of literary genres and global cultures
Book lovers rejoice! There are independent bookstores across Los Angeles that are focused on a wide range of literary genres and global cultures. From children's books to cooking to horror, read on for some of the best specialty bookstores in L.A.
African American: Malik Books
With the closing of Eso Won Books, Malik Books, located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw shopping center, offers the community's best option for an African American literary destination. A second store is located at Westfield Culver City. Malik specializes in books, African American calendars, and African American gifts with an emphasis on cultural diversity.
Malik's Bookmobile is a trailer filled with books to inspire, uplift and educate. The Bookmobile is available as a mobile book fair for local schools, churches and festivals.
Art & Architecture: Hennessey + Ingalls
Founded in 1963, Hennessey + Ingalls has grown to become the largest art, architecture and design bookstore in the western United States. After more than 50 years on the Westside, in February 2016 Hennessey + Ingalls moved into the sprawling One Santa Fe complex in the Arts District of Downtown L.A. The family-owned store is managed by founder Reginald Hennessey's son, Mark.
Hennessey + Ingalls is renowned for their curated selection of books in art and art history, all phases of architecture, photography, interior design, graphic design, and landscaping. Top art directors in film, television, and advertising shop at Hennessey + Ingalls because of the in-depth collections and the knowledge of the staff. Clients include many of the country's leading architectural firms, along with museums, collectors, art galleries, students, interior designers, graphic design firms, and schools.
Children's Book World
Opened in 1986, Children's Book World caters to a wide-ranging Westside clientele of children, parents, teachers and collectors. Along with an inventory of more than 80,000 titles, the store carries a large selection of music, audio books, DVDs, craft and science kits, and educational aids. Books are organized into age groups and the selection covers subjects like LGBTQ and global cultures. The expert staff has a knack for picking just the right book for each child and is experienced with assisting teachers with classroom needs. Check their online event calendar for author signings, Saturday Morning Stories, and off-site events.
Cooking: Now Serving
Built in 1976, the Far East Plaza in Chinatown has become a must-see culinary destination for a new generation thanks to its collection of old-school eateries and newer hotspots like Howlin' Ray's, Lasita (formery LASA) and Bakers Bench.
Opened in September 2017 on the Hill Street side of Far East Plaza, Now Serving is the brainchild of Ken Concepcion, former chef de cuisine at Wolfgang Puck's CUT, and his wife, Michelle Mungcal. The bookstore carries a mix of new and used cookbooks, with about one-third of the inventory devoted to previously owned or out of print books. The cookbooks are organized in sections - the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Mediterranean, central and northern Europe, pastries and baking, beverages, and general food writing and references. In addition to books, Now Serving offers gourmet kitchen tools like Japanese knives, new and vintage cast iron pans, and chef apparel. Now Serving also hosts frequent author events and book signings.
Graphic Novels: Skylight Books Arts Annex
One of L.A.'s most acclaimed independent bookstores, Skylight Books is a pillar of its historic Los Feliz neighborhood. Opened on Vermont in 1996, Skylight is owned and run by writers, and award winning actor, Jeffrey Tambor. The frequent author events are an engaging mix of well-known writers and emerging talent.
In 2008, Skylight opened its Arts Annex in the adjacent liquor store. The Annex then moved into the former Colonial Drugs one space over. Though it's not an actual comic book store like Secret Headquarters or Meltdown Comics, the Annex is well-known for its thoughtful selection of graphic novels and comics. As with the main store, the knowledgeable and helpful staff at the Annex is always ready to recommend zines and mini-comics created by local artists - the epitome of the "shop local" ethos.
Hollywood: Larry Edmunds Bookshop
The Golden Age of Hollywood produced a long list of film classics from the end of the silent era to the 1960s. Beginning in the 1930s, Tinseltown also became known as a literary landmark because of the famous writers working in Hollywood and the many bookstores located on Hollywood Boulevard, including the legendary Stanley Rose Bookshop next door to Musso & Frank Grill.
A former employee at Stanley Rose, Larry Edmunds opened his own bookstore on Cahuenga in 1938. Now located on Hollywood Boulevard across from Musso's, the Larry Edmunds Bookshop boasts a world-class inventory of more than 500,000 movie photographs, 6,000+ original movie posters, and over 20,000 motion picture and theater books. They also stock memorabilia like lobby cards and scripts. Larry Edmunds hosts frequent book signings, like recent events with director Werner Herzog and TCM "Noir Alley" host Eddie Muller; and sponsors off-site author events and screenings.
Horror: Dark Delicacies
Opened by Sue and Del Howison in December 1994, Dark Delicacies is world-renowned by horror fans for its mindblowing collection of memorabilia, DVDs, clothing, and thousands of new and used books. The couple, who were married in the store on Halloween, make it a point to stock local and handmade items in their extensive inventory, which includes everything from graphic novels to action figures, movie posters, kid friendly products and even horror-themed scents. Published in August 2005, the Dark Delicacies Anthology features 20 new tales of the macabre, beginning with "The Reincarnate" by Ray Bradbury and closing with Clive Barker's "Haeckel's Tale." Edited by Del and Jeff Gelb, the award winning collection spawned two sequels. Staying ahead of the curve, the couple shifted the shop's focus from book sales to frequent signing events, which launched with Sara Karloff (daughter of legendary horror actor Boris Karloff) and are now a staple of Dark Delicacies.
Japanese: Books Kinokuniya
Founded in 1927 and headquartered in Tokyo, the Books Kinokuniya chain spans more than 70 locations in Japan and dozens of stores overseas, including three in Los Angeles: Weller Court in Little Tokyo, and Mitsuwa Marketplaces in Santa Monica and Torrance. Kinokuniya offers a wide variety of books, magazines, and stationery imported from Japan. The extensive collection includes manga, graphic novels, art and design books, cookbooks, travel books, children's books, and more, both in English and Japanese.
Fans of animation director Hayao Miyazaki, take note: Kinokuniya is the official retail partner of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli and carries merchandise shipped directly from Japan, including DVDs, books, stationery, puzzles, pins, stuffed animals and more.
Korean: Sejong Bookstore
One of Koreatown's most popular shopping destinations, the Koreatown Galleria features more than 70 stores and an Asian food court aka the "Food Gallery." The Galleria Market stocks produce, every grocery staple imaginable, Korean imports, and an elaborate seafood section with prepared sashimi, whole fish, and live fruits of the sea. Located on the third floor, Sejong Bookstore carries Korean novels and magazines, bilingual Korean-English learner workbooks, as well as toys and a reading area for kids. The helpful staff can special order nearly any book from Korea.
Latinx: Tia Chucha's
Founded in 2001, Tia Chucha’s began as a café, bookstore and cultural space owned and run by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, his wife Trini, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez. Located in Sylmar, Tia Chucha's independent bookstore specializes in Xican@/Latin@ history and literature, indigenous knowledge, bilingual children’s books, contemporary and social commentary issues, as well as Spanish-language, queer/LGBTQ, art, poetry, and more. Since 2005, Tia Chucha's has presented the annual Celebrating Words Festival, the only outdoor literacy festival for the greater San Fernando Valley.
Tia Chucha’s cultural center presents a wide range of on-site and off-site arts and literacy programming, workshops and activities, author readings, film screenings, and art exhibits. Other projects include Tia Chucha Press, one of the country’s leading small cross-cultural presses; and the Young Warriors Mentoring Program.
LGBTQ: Book Soup
With more than one-third of its residents identifying as LGBTQ, West Hollywood is a leading community for gay rights and renowned for its gay-friendly nightlife. Opened in 1975, Book Soup is located on the world-famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, serving a diverse clientele of readers, writers, artists, musicians and celebrities. Book Soup is well-known for its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, high-profile author readings, limited edition books, vinyl record reissues, and the two golden dog statues that stand guard over the bookstore.
The 60,000-book inventory includes an extensive LGBTQ selection. Book Soup hosts frequent in-store author events, such as Steven Rowley and Byron Lane discussing their latest releases - The Celebrants and Big Gay Wedding, respectively. There are also off-site programs like Gigi Gorgeous and Gottmik discussing The T Guide: Our Trans Experiences and a Celebration of Gender Expression―Man, Woman, Nonbinary, and Beyond.
Metaphysical: Mystic Journey
Describing itself as "the largest Metaphysical Hub in Los Angeles," Mystic Journey Bookstore was opened in Venice by Jeffrey Segal in 2008. Located on Abbot Kinney, Mystic Journey sells a wide range of spiritual and visionary books, as well as all the "sacred, magical and supernatural necessities" you'll need for meditation, yoga, and decorating your home sanctuary. The bookstore boasts one of L.A.'s best collections of healing crystals and stones, incense, candles, sage, Palo Santo, statues, singing bowls, jewelry and gifts. Mystic Journey hosts frequent events, from free author signings like "Dream, Doubt & Do it Anyway" to special events and workshops such as "Awakening to the Fifth Dimension."
Mystery Pier Books
For an unforgettable literary experience off the Sunset Strip, head down a few stone steps through a narrow passageway, and step into a charming English cottage that houses an extraordinary collection of several thousand first edition books. Located near Book Soup, Mystery Pier Books is owned and operated by the father-son duo of Harvey Jason and Louis M. Jason. The warm and cozy independent bookshop is a favorite of the entertainment industry - the website lists a Who's Who of A-list clients. Visitors are invited to browse through stunning first editions - many signed or inscribed.
Modern first editions include Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind ($25,000), signed by the author with laid-in slips signed by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable; and The Man with the Golden Gun ($!5,000) with cards signed by Ian Fleming and Roger Moore.
For Mystery & Detective Fiction fans, recent treasures include a first edition of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon ($5,000) and The Shining ($2,500) with a tipped-in card inscribed by Stephen King.
Science Fiction: The Iliad Bookshop
One of LA's largest used bookstores, The Iliad Bookshop houses a collection of more than 150,000 books and two cats, Zeus and Apollo. The Iliad specializes in Literature and the Arts, but its collection spans a wide range of subjects. Opened by Dan Weinstein in 1987, The Iliad is named for its original location next to Odyssey Video on Vineland - the store moved to its current 5,000 square-foot space on Cahuenga in 2006.
Los Angeles has been a science fiction mecca for generations, from appearing in countless movies and TV series to inspiring some of the genre's greatest writers. Several aisles at The Iliad are devoted to science fiction, from small paperbacks and anthologies to Star Wars, Star Trek and sci-fi art. Pricing ranges from $1 to rarities like Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars ($480) and signed copies of Frank Herbert's Dune ($750), Octavia E. Butler's Kindred ($500) and Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles ($400).