Walking across the wooden black ramp with a tunnel of aging books and arched lighting above your head, a portal opens for the labyrinth that is The Last Bookstore.
Its name derives from the great irony of the path print books find themselves in. According to a survey conducted in Jan. by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International, 50% of Americans own either a handheld device, such as an iPad or tablet, or an e-reader, such as a Kindle or Nook, for reading purposes. Believing “physical bookstores are dying out like dinosaurs,” The Last Bookstore operates to last against e-books.
The two-story bookstore began as an online store in a minimized loft in 2005. Then it moved to the Old Bank District in downtown Los Angeles. Now in its third incarnation, the store moved to its current location at Spring and Fifth Street.
The most distinct factor of The Last Bookstore is its unorthodox take on a bookstore. Here is a place where different forms of art clash to create an atmosphere where inanimate objects come to life.
Once you enter, you hear music. Not soothing classical music that would suit the renaissance marble pillars and stunning chandeliers but rather indie music, blasting from two stereos placed at the very front. You are even greeted by the head of the very extinct woolly mammoth.
Adjacent to such randomness are rows and rows of used vinyl records. For alternative rock listeners searching for The Smiths or 80’s lovers in need of Madonna’s “Madonna,” there is a vinyl for whichever genre is of preference ranging with prices from 99 cents to $40.
But nothing beats the maze found above The Last Bookstore. Categorized by the color of the books’ spine, there is a rainbow that tastes of imagery and has the lingering scent of ink on maturing paper. With over 100,000 books, becoming lost is the least of problems since they are all $1.
Reaching the end there is an art exhibition where paintings are sold and priced at $1,000 and up. Small boutiques are also found with quirky items like knitted sweaters, vintage cameras and teacups.
“I came here looking for a reference book for my political science major,” first time visitor Pamela Pedraza-Mendoza said. “This place is so artsy, I can’t help but wander around.”
Buying over 300 to 700 used books and records on the weekend, The Last Bookstore has become the largest independent bookstore in California. Since there is a stage in the first floor, events are commonly hosted from author visits, artists and even live music. Mark your calendars for May 4 since they will be hosting a Speaksy/ Open Mic Night.
The Last Bookstore is filled with a charming wit found in almost every section. From the Secret Headquarters Dungeons storing comic books to the Crime, Law, Horror & Weirdness shelves, there is no other bookstore that can bring such a mystic feel.
“Browse around,” employee Alan Traylor said. “Don’t come here expecting to find a certain book. Get lost and have open eyes.”
453 S. Spring St., Ground Floor
Downtown LA | 213.488.0599
No parking, nearby parking $4-$8