Posted in North America, Travels, United States

The Last Bookstore

Another Instagram gem. And a place that will now be in my regular rotation when visiting Los Angeles.

Bibliophiles rejoice! This is your L.A. haven, right in the middle of DTLA. I only allowed myself about 20 minutes to be here (because of other plans), but that quickly turned into over an hour (and caused me to miss a food truck).

What can I say? I love books. If you do too, visit The Last Bookstore. Maps place it at 453 S. Spring Street, but apparently that is a delivery entrance, so round the corner to 5th Street for the regular-people entrance. If you forget, there are signs to remind you. Read on …

I’ve always loved to read, but Barnes and Noble have cornered the book market in my neighborhood, so I didn’t know anything outside the typical commercial store. When I saw this place on Instagram, I knew I had to visit. It didn’t really occur to me that this place was a legit book store at first it because I had only seen pictures of the book tunnel. I thought it was some sort of art display with books.

Chat with security on your way in, but don’t be upset if they ask to check your bag. Unfortunately, they’ve had issues with shoplifting. On the bright side, the folks working the security desk are super nice if you’re not a jackass.

The bottom floor of the building is the main floor of the bookstore. Take a quick left on your way in and pass the art books towards the glass cases and peer at some of the rare books (all for sale). One book I remember had a German title and looked old enough to have come out of Lincoln’s library (you know, if he could read German) and was priced around $600.

Wander through the main floor and weave between books sorted by subject (as in most bookstores). I was particularly intrigued by the section dedicated to L.A. authors. This store offers both new and used books, but many of the used books either look brand new or are only lightly worn. And with many of the used books less than $10, I thought it was a steal. If you have books to sell, check with the staff member in the back. Not sure how that process works, but I saw the desk.

Stairs to the second floor

Walk to the back corner of the store and into an area that looks like it’s supposed to be for employees only. It’s not. Round the corner and you’re greeted with these super-cool stairs.

It’s up these stairs where you see the artwork made famous on Instagram. And more books, particularly within my favorite genres.

Book porthole

Even though it perturbed me to see (what looked like) real books used in artwork (and not in my hands for me to read), I have to admit that the displays are pretty nice. Apparently, they’re so nice that there have been issue with some people impeding others from enjoying the store by holding amateur/impromptu photo sessions. If you come for the Instagram photo ops, be patient and give the right of way for people who are actually there for books, and be considerate of others who may want to take a picture too. If you’re keeping people from enjoying books (or hogging photo ops), you may be asked to stop and move along. Or if I’m there in a petty mood and I’ve waited at least 15 minutes for you to finish, I may passive-aggressively stand in the background of your photo to ruin it.

Instagram-famous book tunnel

The second floor is definitely my favorite place to be in this store. Next to this tunnel is an old vault (complete with instructions on what to do if you’re locked inside). The vault appropriately holds books about true crime, mystery, and horror.Through the tunnel and subsequent doorway, you’ll find coffee table books (sorted by color and labeled “Decorative Books”) and non-fiction history books, including a wide section documenting World War II. Of course, I had to get a book for the Bestie here, and her favorite subject is World War II.

It was around the time I found myself in the travel section that I discovered I had been in the store for over an hour. I had to leave, but it’s definitely a place I would go again. One of the staff members told me that some customers stay in the store from open to close. Perhaps I’ll be one of those people in the future.


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