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Circus of Books in Silver Lake is officially closed after 31 years

Circus of Books in Silver Lake is officially closed after 31 years
Photograph: Courtesy Fred Rockwood/Flickr/CC

When the doors shut at the Circus of Books location in Silver Lake last night, it was for the final time. After 31 years in business, the local landmark will now be replaced with a weed dispensary.

Both the neighborhood and the culture around the shop have changed a lot since it was opened by Barry and Karen Mason back in 1985. As their daughter Rachel recounts in an essay, Silver Lake was so rough back in the '80s that the mural, which would come to make the shop a landmark along Sunset Boulevard, was only commissioned in an effort to appease the gang members who were constantly tagging graffiti on the wall. Now the spot is posh enough that a boutique hotel is set to go in right across the street from the store's location.    

The customer base for what they sold certainly shifted as well. In addition to traditional book store items, much of Circus of Books' stock was adult publications and videos, particularly for the large gay clientele who also used the shop as a popular meeting place. Now that most of the things Circus of Books offered—be it buying books, finding pornography, or meeting a next hook-up—have all moved online, far fewer people have been stopping in at the shop in recent years and the brick-and-mortar shop couldn't keep up. 

“The business is not here anymore,” Barry Mason told LAist, “Everything is on Amazon. And the magazines, so many of them aren’t printing anymore.”

For those feeling nostalgic for the old days the shop represented, the original West Hollywood location of Circus of Books will remain in operation just like it is; they intend to stick it out for as long as they can.