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  • Writer's pictureedwardianjackal

Visit: The Last Bookstore, DLA

There are very few bookstores left, even the big chains struggle. But, very much alive and well, is The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, at 453 South Spring Street Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

This 22,000 sq ft is a mini-metropolis stacked high with every manner and type of book. They boast about 250k new and used books across two floors (ground and second), but this also spills over to a Art & Rare Book Annex. They also have a deep vinyl collection and a section devoted to graphic novels. If books had a church, this would be the place - where there is care and passion for the written word, love of the physical format and treasuring of book (and other types of) art.

The best place to park is the underground car park at Pershing Square Garage - accessible on three fronts (5th Olive, 6th, or S. Hill). Posted prices for parking are $2 for 15m, about $10 for 4 to 8 hours, etc. From there it is a two block walk over to bookstore - at the corner of W 5th and S Spring St - the entrance is on 5th. Be aware and have your head on swivel, for those that know their city's well!

The store is broken out into sections, but the very essence of the place is meant to be a wandering journey and not a direct 'get in, get out' task mastering. (In fact, I would challenge you to try.) No, intrepid traveler, lover of the written word, or curator of art or music - this is the place you want to dwell in. Like exploring a lover's body - lingering in one area today, discovering (or re-discovering) something fact, the whole place feels like a love letter of sorts...

Generally, sections are broken out as books, art and rare books, vinyl, graphic novels, and mini-art exhibits and mini-artist shops. For books, they do buy and sell, which is even rarer these days. They even cycle in books on eBay

As for navigating, just explore. This building was an annex and a bank - so, to no surprise, you'll find at least three bank vaults. Each wall and corner are decorated and meant to be discovered. And, apart from its big chain brethren, there are actual couches and benches and chairs - so you can actually sit and read.

As a book lover, I most appreciated the mixture of new and old on the same shelf. I've been on a particular bent lately - looking for mid-century poetry paperbacks. I happily found more than a few, and at dirt cheap prices. [Also found a rough pulp paperback by Max Brand - it's supposed to be pretty awful, so can't wait to read it.]

As for vinyl, it is truly a search by luck endeavor - there are hundreds and hundreds of albums, both new and used.

The building has a bit of bank history - it was constructed during World War I during a time Los Angeles was known as the 'Wall Street of the West'. The building was first operated by Crocker Bank, until they merged with Citizen National. Then, when Crocker was acquired by Wells Fargo in 1986 (by a British Holding company), they never operated as a bank again. It is called the Springs Arts Tower today.

[My haul / samples of used book pricing ->

Dell / Laurel - Six Centuries of Great Poetry - $3 The Penguin Book of Sonnets - $3

Six Golden Angels by Max Brand - $2]

Owner Josh Spencer, who's personal story has captured attention in various articles and short video pieces - envisioned a place where he would want to spend his entire day. A place as a tribute to his passion for all things book.

A friend of mine said it is the perfect date place - I couldn't agree more <3 and can't wait to be back again!

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