Best shops in LA: The city's best independent booksellers

Looking for lit? Find some of the best shops in LA for art books to travel guides and political tomes to children's tales, with our list of best independent booksellers.

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Best shops in LA: Skylight Books

Best shops in LA: Skylight Books Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Looking for lit? If you're book shopping in Los Angeles, look no further. We've found the best shops and independent retailers offering art books, travel guides political tomes and children's tales. Check out these top 20 Los Angeles booksellers for the best bargains, out-of-print titles, author readings and community events.

The Last Bookstore

  • Critics choice

If The Last Bookstore downtown were really our last bookstore, we'd be in good shape. Currently housed in what used to be an old bank building (complete with marble columns and giant doors), the store first began in a loft apartment and has since expanded to include a record shop, coffee bar and "Labyrinth" mezzanine level soley dedicated to $1 books. It's now the largest independent bookstore in Southern California. You can sell or trade old books here, pick up new ones, grab a record or a cup of joe, and attend a myriad of events including readings, book signings, writers groups, open mics and live music. It's a true community hotspot, bringing like-minded literary folks together to create, inspire and share in a space that's as open as your mind will be when you visit.

  1. 453 South Spring St
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ARTBOOK @ Paper Chase

This design book showroom is housed in the historic Art Deco Paper Chase building in Hollywood, and has some of best and most beautiful titles in the genre, including books on photography, architecture, film, music, fashion and culture. The space also hosts art book events, temporary installations and a program of talks, lectures and other book-related gatherings. The showroom is open by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead.

  1. 7174 Sunset Boulevard
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Traveler's Bookcase

  • Critics choice

If you're looking for a travel-related book (be it guide, history, map or novel), travel no further than Traveler's Bookcase. Here you'll find great resources for your next trip, tomes to satiate even the strongest wanderlust, and gifts for any adventure lover, including travel knick-knacks such as passport pouches, translator guides, plane comfort kits, etc. There's even a kids section for pint-sized explorers. The selection is vast and the service is friendly and expert; the owners have traveled to more than 90 countries (their books travel too—they ship across the globe, naturally).

  1. 8375 W 3rd St
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Children’s Book World

  • Price band: 1/4

This store carries over 80,000 titles, as well as music, audio books, DVDs, puppets, stuffed animals and craft and science kits. The book selection is open-minded (gay-friendly, multi-cultural) and well-organized, divided into age-appropriate sections. There are cozy spots to snuggle up and read in, as well as play areas for the wee ones; peek around the corner of any aisle and you'll find a happy kid with her nose in a book. Regular events include book signings and story hours.

  1. 10580 West Pico Boulevard
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Stories Books and Cafe

Stories Books and Cafe is a funky, cozy spot off Sunset Boulevard, with new and used titles packed floor to ceiling. There's a little cafe in the back with good coffee and fresh food, and an outdoor patio popular with the freelance crowd. If you're looking for an obscure title, chances are they'll have it here. There's also a good selection of gift-y things such as greeting cards, coloring books and magnets and mugs (our favorite have a hot librarian graphic and the words "reading is sexy"). Regular events include readings, signings and open mic comedy nights.

  1. 1716 West Sunset Blvd
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Vroman's

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The largest independent bookshop in Southern California was founded over a century ago, and continues to provide welcome competition to the big box options in the Valley. The stock is strong and the staff are very helpful. They sell so much (too much?) more than books: coffee, music, luggage, jewelry, cookware and candles. Keep an eye out for the regular readings and the book signings.

  1. 695 E Colorado Blvd, between N El Molino & N Oak Knoll Aves
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Skylight Books

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This much-cherished, cozy neighborhood bookstore in Los Feliz strikes a neat balance between intellectual crowd-pleasers and more unusual fare, including a large selection of local zines. Open since the mid '90s, it bucked book-industry trends by expanding into neighboring premises a few years ago. It now houses readings, signings and some of LA's best book clubs, including one dedicated solely to Ulysses, and another for YA (young adult) novels. Tip: If you miss a reading, check their website for a podcast version.

  1. 1818 N Vermont Ave, at Melbourne Ave
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Revolution Books

Revolution Books (Libros Revolucion) is a radical, visionary bookstore with inspiring titles in science, poetry, philosophy, nonfiction, leftist politics and a wide range of -isms. There are sections of books in Spanish and a hefty Latino focus (hence its name). If you're looking to expand your knowledge of micro or macro politics or social issues, this is an indispensable stop, but be aware: the staff can be a bit overbearing. They'll try to turn you on to local activism, which can be great if that's what you're looking for, but perhaps too much pressure for those just perusing.

  1. 5726 Hollywood Blvd
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Diesel, A Bookstore

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Diesel is keeping bookstores hip, with its modern aesthetics, eclectic selection, and online presence—including a video channel with author events, book recs and other visual ephemera, such as a "30 videos in 30 days" project, celebrating National Poetry Month.

  1. Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th St
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Arcana Books on the Arts

Stocked with more than 100,000 rare, obscure, and out-of-print volumes—not to mention a staff that's eager to help you track down exactly what you're looking for—this art, photography and design book emporium ought to keep you busy for at least a few hours.

  1. 8675 Washington Blvd
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Users say

1 comments
robles
robles

You guys can;t forget about the small, quint, long standing Caravan Book Store in Downtown LA, on Grand near corner with 6th. It is a brilliant bookstore that has been around for 60+ years. This bookstore is like no other, if you are a Harry Potter fan, perhaps its not the ideal place to find your literary delights, but just walking into the store is if in the Harry Potter's School Master's Office, filled with old prints, antique trinkets and trains decorate shelves and cabinets, Subway tickets or schedules to the long forgotten long gone Pacific Electric Railroad(the original METRO rail), and one can't for get old maps and postcard. Grant it, It is not a largely stacked and vast array of endless them books as would Barnes and Nobles or The Last Book Store, but it is size measures its greatness to sell random books as they stick out like sore thumbs being that it is limited on display space, which by the same token, these very books may be shelved at the aforementioned stores, they are a needle in a hay stack and never sees the light of day. As I said, it isn't the typical Harry Potter Fan specialty store, but I wouldn't put it past them to have a special, limited edition print of such series, or trendy item. It is a book store to stop by, spend a good half hour browsing the single room store. The owner is delightful and knowledgeable, keeps to himself in the back observing incomers, not as suspicious observation but one that is pleased to bring some sort of joy to all who stumble into the store and are amazed by it. Talking to him may be challenging as I am sure after 60 years of the repetitive bus fair exchange petitions, or inquest for the latest Harry Potter may put a damper to his day, but once you get him talking, the man is intriguing and genuine, ask for a topic and he takes a few steps left, two right , a few slide paces left and a arm stretch to grab you a couple of books. The best of it is there are NO bags in this place. They wrap and tape your purchase in brown paper wrapping, as if at a butcher shop. It is a trip to enjoy, a walk down memory lane, for those who may still recall those golden years, and a nice history tour for us new generation kindle fans