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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Small World Books

Surrounded by bad beach food and throngs of people, this little shop is an oasis of literary calm. Their local author selection is right up front, so check out the local talent before perusing the aisles, where you'll find a number of hard-to-find independent imprints, along with the more usual suspects such as McSweeney's. They also have a little Mystery Annex, if you're into that sort of thing. Note: You may feel as if you're being watched like a hawk, but it is Venice beach after all, so cut the staff a break.

  1. 1407 Ocean Front Walk
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Pop Hop Books & Print

  • Price band: 2/4

An intimate bookstore and print shop specializing in fiction, art and new works from local presses. Books are lined up on wooden shelves on rolling casters, like an elementary school library. Behind the bookcases, a small studio holds weekly instruction in classes such as screen-printing, zine making, baby sign language and more.

  1. 5002 York Blvd
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Secret Headquarters

  • Critics choice

This comic book and graphic novel shop has shelf upon shelf of illustrated stories, as well as beautiful art books and local zines. If you're into illustrated stories, this is the place to go—the shopkeepers will geek out with you over the newest issue of Aquaman or the sophomore effort of a graphic novelist. They can also recommend great stuff for first-timers, as well as gift suggestions for anyone on your list.

  1. 3817 West Sunset Blvd
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Bookmarc

Tucked into an ivy-covered brick and stucco building near the massive Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs boutiques on Melrose, this quaint bookstore offers a tightly curated selection of new, limited-edition and vintage books covering photography, fine art, fiction, poetry, memoir and even cookbooks. Browse the bookshelves for remarkable reads that always make the perfect gift. Do not resist the impulse buys near the register. Relatively inexpensive Marc Jacobs–branded items like key chains, necklaces, postcards, notebooks, pens and pocket mirrors alone are worth popping into the shop.

  1. 8407 Melrose Place
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Hennessey + Ingalls

  • Critics choice

This art and architecture bookstore also sells children's books, rare and out-of-print titles, maps, guidebooks and culinary books, along with a huge selection of Moleskine notebooks, journals and planners. It's a store with highbrow merchandise, without the intimidation factor; the staff is friendly and helpful, and there's something for everyone here.

  1. 214 Wilshire Blvd
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Eso Won Books

  • Price band: 2/4

This small, black and family owned bookstore—located in the historical Leimert Park—carries a wide range of books, from New York Times best-sellers to small-press releases. It specializes in books from the African American experience and the African Diaspora. They have regular community events including readings, guest speakers, debates and public forums. The staff is knowledgeable, but not always nice: You're more likely to be met with an indifferent and unproffessional attitude than not.

  1. 4331 Degnan Blvd
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Book Soup

  • Price band: 2/4

The variety of stock at Book Soup is huge and diverse, even if the space itself is a little squeezed (it's easy to get lost!), and the newsstand is well stocked with domestic and international papers. Tip: make sure to check out the impressive section on LA history, architecture and lore.

  1. 8818 Sunset Blvd, between Larabee St & Horn Ave
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Mystery Pier Books, Inc.

Down a tiny corridor off Sunset is an adorable old house, home of Mystery Pier Books, Inc. Being in this bookshop is like being at a museum where you get to buy the exhibits; beautiful, rare first editions, collectible, out-of-print and signed books populate these shelves. The staff are more like gracious hosts than salespeople, and have the answer to literally any question about their stock and beyond. If you have a collector's item in mind, this is the place to find it—plan to spend a decent amount here, accordingly. Mystery Pier is just down the street from Book Soup, so you can hit both stores in the same day (we think you'll walk out of here a bit more wowed, if a bit more broke).

  1. 8826 West Sunset Blvd
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Books & Cookies

  • Critics choice

This children’s bookstore, bakery and “enrichment center” is a sweet spot to bring the under-8 set. It’s divided into three kid-friendly areas: a bookstore/interactive reading room for “read to me daddy!” snuggle time (all the books are also for sale); a kids' cafe selling fresh baked cookies, milk and all sorts of healthy and allergy-sensitive snacks; and an events and activities space where baby sign language, arts & crafts and other enriching classes go down. Check the website for event details.

  1. 2230 Main St
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LeadApron

Sequestered behind a lush garden on Melrose Place is LeadApron, a bookstore/gallery hybrid owned by art dealer and gallerist Jonathan Schilder Brown. Rare, signed art and photography books occupy the modern but inviting space, and a stylish staff will guide your selections. A well-curated collection of fine art and photography is on display.

  1. 8445 Melrose Pl
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Angel City Books & Records

This new and used bookstore just off the beach has the funky feel of a vintage shop, in part due to its best kept secret—the vast new and used vinyl selection, plus vintage record players, speakers and amps. Listen to records for sale as you peruse the aisles—Angel City offers books in every genre, and even has specialized book catalogs to help you find what you're looking for. There's also a gallery inside the store that features contemporary fine art from local beachside artists.

  1. 218 Pier Avenue
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Users say

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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