Stepping inside The Last Bookstore is like opening the door to the old times – a visit you’ll never forget.
Visit The Last Bookstore, a Tranquil Bookshop in Downtown Los Angeles
If you live in Los Angeles or scrolled through hundreds of pictures on the Internet before visiting this sunny California‘s city, the chances are you came across images of The Last Bookstore no less than a dozen times.
At that time, you probably didn’t realize that a famous round window in a book wall was located in one of the dreamiest bookstores in downtown Los Angeles. Yet even then finding this peculiar “wall opening” became your next priority on the endless must-do-things list in the capital of Hollywood.
Visit The Last Bookstore
Nothing indicates on the mysterious world ruled by used and new books outside The Last Bookstore. Blending in with the rest of the buildings surrounding Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, the exterior of the bookshop looks rather unimpressive.
So is the sign on the window by the entrance door. No hand-carved name plate that would transfer its visitors into the mysterious world of the books before they even get inside The Last Bookstore. Just a few words, simple and plain, adorn the bottom section of the window.
Maybe it was done internally to steer away any non-book lover right at the door, reserving the bookstore only to the most avid readers. Or treasure hunters… The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles has certainly collected many queer gems over the years.
INSIDE THE LAST BOOKSTORE
Yet if your curiosity ignores the not so grand sign at the window and triggers you to peer inside The Last Bookstore… You are for a real treat right from the moment you enter the shop.
Dim light so different from the sunny weather outside envelopes you. A store employee (most likely one of those desperate book lovers himself) greets you by a wall with half-empty bins where you can leave your oversized bags.
A few more steps, and you are in the main room of The Last Bookstore. Don’t mind a rather big cashier station to your right. You’ll surely have a closer look at it at the end of your visit to The Last Bookstore. For now, dive straight into the perplexing kingdom of the books.
Visit the First Floor of The Last Bookstore
Shelves filled from top to bottom with novels, classics, history narratives festoon a spacious room in no particular order. Some of the bookcases attempt to follow a straight arrangement you can often see in other bookstores. Others forsake all the orthodox systems, succumbing to the diagonal disposition.
If you look at this chaotic arrangement of the bookshelves from the top, it surely looks like a maze. Not a corn labyrinth which variations can be found in different areas of Los Angeles in October. But a real book web, which makes The Last Bookstore even more enticing to visit and shop at.
The dreamy ambiance inside The Last Bookstore allows you to forget about the time. As you move from one section to another, equally illuminated by the dim light, you hardly ever notice how the sunny day slowly turns into a cozy evening with a book that you haven’t read yet but are ready to peruse.
Who to blame for? With all these old and new volumes residing in an old bank building you want to linger inside the bookstore as long as you can.
Even kids can agree on this. With the whole corner stocked with colorful children’s books for little readers of all ages, including young adults, the tiny visitors can’t stop adding more “treasures” to already impressive piles of the storybooks they want to take home.
Dylan certainly felt like he needed to put at least one more colorful find in a stack of nine children’s books Roshan was carrying for him.
Inside Hidden Book Vault in The Last Bookstore
A massive door at the far corner of the children’s section aroused my curiosity. Ending Dylan’s treasure hunt as quickly as possibly, we entered through it. A former bank employee aka yours truly couldn’t be deceived. While the room housed a splendid collection of antique books now, in the early 1900’s it had served as a bank vault.
The section with comics allured my niece who looked for now popular among teenagers Manga and Anime books. Surprisingly, she didn’t find any titles she was looking for. And yet the girl ended up buying an adventure story. The Last Bookstore puts a spell on even not particularly avid book readers, after all.
The book exchange section (I need to use it next time I visit The Last Bookstore) set in the far corner of the main room. I spotted many other interesting bookshelves nearby. But hurried by Roshan, we proceeded to the second floor of The Last Bookstore.
Visit the Second Floor of The Last Bookstore
It wasn’t our first time inside The Last Bookstore and we knew what to expect here. (The first-time visitors will learn it soon, one way or another.) And yet it’s still one of our favorite sections to visit in The Last Bookstore.
Narrow passages alined with the shelves of different sizes await the visitors on the second floor of The Last Bookstore. The area looks smaller and more intimate. Yet it contains almost as many books as the first floor.
Every visitor expects something absolutely special on the second floor of the bookstore. Blame all those stair steps with literary genres written on their risers that connect the two floors.
As you dive deeper into the dreamiest part of The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, more secluded nooks open up. Here is a wall shelf with its big, diamond-shaped cells. In another corner, you find a rustic cage with a bird inside. (The feathered visitor of The Last Bookstore seemed to spend too much time reading here that it didn’t notice how its birdie self turned into a mummy.)
Two nooks of The Last Bookstore are yet to astound even the most devoted bookshop visitors. Nestled somewhere in the middle area on the second floor, a faintly illuminated tunnel built entirely from the books already gathered a crowd. One by one, the visitors walked through the tunnel, inevitably stopping to pose for phone cameras operated by their companions.
I tried to take a good picture of Dylan here as well. But the boy, smitten by this new discovery, was more interested in the mysterious ambiance inside the tunnel. He made a few rounds though the book structure before I urged him to let the other visitors of The Last Bookstore to walk through and photograph the favorite tunnel.
The Famous Book Window
By this time, Roshan couldn’t wait to get to the famous book window. A hollow made intentionally in one of the book walls is the biggest allure of them all. Thousand of locals and new-comers visit The Last Bookstore to snap a pic at the Instagrammable window. Many of these visitors don’t even like reading. But the site looks too good to skip it during this social media era.
A large, comfortable chair is perched right in front of the book window. Can the visitors of The Last Bookstore hope to see a puppet show here? I’m not sure about it, but a constant change of smily faces posing for the cameras from the window is always to count on.
On the other hand, if you visit The Last Bookstore for the first time, it’s easy to miss the famous window. Set between some random sections and lacking the grand size of the book tunnel, this peculiar attraction eludes enough bookworms rushing through the store.
To give you some direction, the book window neighbors history and travel sections. The latter was my primary interest. Needless to say, I left it with three new books. Although I couldn’t find any books about Hawaii (except for a Kauai guide), a few memoirs I was eyeing for a long time couldn’t escape my attention.
Inside The Last Bookstore: History in a Nutshell
The Last Bookstore is not necessary the last bookshop in Los Angeles. Yet while many of other, smaller stores went out of business thanks to online bookshops offered by Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the dramatic librairie still attracts hordes of curious visitors that turn into avid book shoppers and readers in no time.
The largest new and used bookstore in California, this little paradise emerged on the Los Angeles’s book scene in 2005. The first Last Bookstore was located in a downtown Los Angeles loft.
Pretty soon it outgrew its space and eventually moved to its current location. There is a good chance that The Last Bookstore can change its address anytime in the future. As for now, it’s an integral part of the downtown area.
With that said, The Last Bookstore had its share of ups and downs in the past. It could be just another bookshop that would have closed its doors prematurely and permanently if not for its owner Josh Spencer. An experienced seller, Josh transformed a typical bookstore into a dramatic abode of over 250,000 books.
Passionate about the books and the going-out-of-style pastime (more people are glued to Kindles and e-books nowadays), the entrepreneur used all his expertise to give a quite remarkable life to The Last Bookstore.
Things to Know before Visiting The Last Bookstore
453 S Spring St – Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013
The Last Bookstore is open for visiting and shopping every day, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Similar to the majority of other businesses in downtown Los Angeles, The Last Bookstore doesn’t have a parking lot. Plenty of parking meters sit right in front of the bookshop. The spaces, however, fill up quickly, especially on weekends.
A number of paid parking lots nestle in the area. If you are in downtown Los Angles for a day or visit some other places near The Last Bookstore, these are your best options.
Selling Your Books
Bring along your old books while visiting The Last Bookstore next time. The shop buys many used books, although it almost never accepts hardcover novels, older health books, and encyclopedias. Alternately, you can trade your old volumes for the new or used books sold by The Last Bookstore.
Having an Event at The Last Bookstore
Last but not least, you can have your event at The Last Bookstore. The shop entertained a wedding party in the past. In other words, The Last Bookstore grants if not all, then many of the wishes of its visitors.