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Sad Clown

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When I go to a new city, if I speak the language there or not, there are two primary categories of shops I seek out first:  Bakery/Coffee shops (Brewing own beans is a Gonzo), and used book stores.  I don’t LOVE the smell of old books, but old book stores themselves, with their high looming shelves and crazy filing systems, make me feel so cozy and intimate, like I’m going into a distant relative’s house.

Sadly, the Los Angeles area has few relatives for me.   I have about 6 boxes of books to get rid of, believe me we kept a lot more, and I was hoping to trade them in for store credit, like I do at Ameoba for CD’s and DVD’s we don’t want to keep.  Great system, everyone seems to win.   Unfortunately, as I look around…no used book stores.  I guess the rents are ridiculously high in LA, because the nearest one I could find is in Pasadena, about 45 minutes away, more with traffic.  🙁 The big one in Long Beach, even farther, recently shut down due to rent increases.  The only ones I could find near me were those fancy first-edition places, who would probably poop on my used paperbacks by Gregory Keyes and stuff (not to insult his series 🙂 )

I’m really sad that a city like this doesn’t have a Strand like in New York (favorite place in nation) or even a chain like Half-Priced Books in Austin, where I’m from.   It makes me feel like there’s no community if we can’t communally share our used books like we do CDs, Movies, Nagel paintings and gross furniture.  I’d buy a lot more books than I do now if I could go get them for half-price in person, because buying them used on the internet isn’t really viable with the shipping costs and stuff.  Is having only Borders and Barnes and Nobles better for the authors?  Sure, because they actually get royalties every sale, and I applaud that.  But I would really love to wander the aisles of a store and have something catch my eye that I didn’t expect, even if it smells a little musty, than…not having the option.

  • Felicia, have you checked out PaperBackSwap.com or BookMooch.com? If not, I think maybe you’ll fall in love with the new school of used book store. 🙂

  • SwordSaintSoma

    *checks watch

    still level 5 huh? [tsk! i say]

    i got some +10 to all attribute leggings tonight.. from the oculis farm

    😛

    they require 30!!!! stamina

  • SOMA! Stop taunting me! 🙂 I tried to get my bro to play last night, but he refuses! You’re farming bosses though so I dunno what he’s talking about with the no farming stuffs.

  • SwordSaintSoma

    hmm..

    i will have to check the forums, but there
    was a lvl30 group up last night farming sydonai [?]
    apparently an evil bastard of a boss if there ever
    was one..

    anyway.. even tho im on beta, i AM playing on the
    latest servers.. and i AM farming oculis the giant all seeing
    eye..

    so i dunno..

    do i have to save up 10k and start a guild just to get
    ppl to play?

    *shrug.. poke-poke taunt taunt taunt proc aoe heal

  • SwordSaintSoma
  • Mia

    Awwwr gosh, not having used bookstores sucks. I’ve been to L.A. over half a dozen times and thiking of the stores there you’re right, I doubt a place like a used bookstore would make enough money to pay rent there (even here I wonder how they make it!).

    Tangent: Well, uhh… if you’re into used furniture, my family (uncles) own a place called Wertz Brothers in LA http://www.wertzbrothers.com/

    OK, I’m probably not being very helpful with that 😛 my other suggestion would be to come to Montreal where there are a ton of used bookstores, but somehow I doubt that’s helpful either!

  • used book stores these days is really a labor of love. Like those great used record stores that once existed and are now so hard to find.
    Luckily around the Atlanta area there are still some decent ones that exist though my favorite one vanished years ago – Oxford Books.
    It’s nice to be able to go in and potentially find that out of print thing that no one wanted but you.
    With the new age books that I get into sometimes it’s a better selection of material to go to used book stores.
    But I suppose that is the price you pay living in a place like L.A.

  • Carl

    Felicia, this was quite poignant and moving. You’re right: a used bookstore should be an integral part of any community….just like its library.

    One of my favorite stages of discovering a new city is going to its library and used book stores.

    It is indeed a very sad commentary, when a community can no longer support one.

  • Omer

    I’m working in NYC his week and it happens that I walked by The Strand tonight on the way to get some dinner. Awesome place even though I can’t help but feel completely overwhelmed and lost whenever I’m in there.

  • Ben

    I agree with Carl that it’s sad that a big community can’t support a small book shop but that’s the way most things in life go. The store will stay as long as there are people buying what you are selling. Supply and demand.

    That’s why its so important for people to support the things they love because before you know it, they will be gone.

    Growing up a comic book collector, I was lucky to have a father that encouraged and supported my hobby. When I was 9 or 10 we used to spend many weekends scouring the garage sales and flea markets looking for old comics. In our travels, we found the greatest comic shop of all time, Larry’s Comics. It wasn’t fancy and new like Jim Hanley’s Universe comics in Manhattan, which is the equivalent of a Barnes and Noble (bright, clean, new).

    Larry’s Comics was like heaven for a nine year old me. The “fancy comics” (including a copy of Amazing Fantasy 15—the first spider-man!) were in plastic bags taped to the wall. Not on a shelf or wall display, TAPED to the wall. This place was mesmerizing with holes in the floor boards, tall stacks of musty comics everywhere and the old grouch working the counter was Larry. This was where I discovered there were way more comic titles out there than I ever imagined. They even carried books from the 40s and 50s. Just seeing a book like that before the internet was usually reserved for comic shows.

    While Larry’s is still open today, I rarely make the time to make the trip. Now that I’ve had the experience of discovering Larry’s, I really don’t “need” Larry’s anymore. For me it’s more of a nostalgic memory. I really prefer to spend my hobby cash on Ebay where I get more for my money. On the one hand, I want Larry’s to exist in perpetuity because it holds so many great memories. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend more time and money so someone else might get a similar experience to mine in the future.

  • Used bookstores are still (barely) around. You just have to hunt a little harder.

    There’s the Iliad in North Hollywood on Cahuenga (For a painfully bright website, check them out at http://www.iliadbooks.com/)

    And Caravan Books on Grand downtown.

    Sadly, Dangerous Visions, which used to be on Ventura, is gone. The good news is that they’re online (http://www.readsf.com/index.html) and sell used science fiction and fantasy, though probably not at the price point you’re looking for.

    They’re also the people who run Babbage Press, (http://www.babbagepress.com/) which publishes sci-fi, fantasy and horror authors whose works are out of print.

    As to your point about B&N being good for authors that’s a yes and a no.

    On the one hand, they move a lot of books. On the other hand, they do almost nothing to build an author’s brand. There’s simply too much there and it’s difficult to find. And there are a lot of things they simply won’t stock. If people can’t find it, or the author can’t promote it, it doesn’t sell.

    Of course, the smaller booksellers, like Dark Delicacies (horror in Burbank – http://www.darkdel.com/) and The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood (http://mystery-bookstore.com/blog/) can help develop a fanbase for lesser known authors, they also can’t stock a lot of books, because of the way the book business works.

    So, it’s kind of a trade-off.

  • Thanks for the links Stephen! I’ll call Iliad today and see if they buy/credit books so I can have even more excuse to go over there 🙂

  • No problem. Hope it works out.

  • matt

    If you’re ever up in Portland (OR), you have to check out Powell’s Books (http://www.powells.com/). It’s one of the largest independent bookstores I’ve ever seen…pretty much takes up an entire city block. They also buy used books online (http://www.powells.com/sys/obb_main.cgi).

  • The disappearance of second-hand bookshops is something that deeply troubles me. I can no longer find any where I live (Bolton, United Kingdom), and instead I have to rely on car-boot sales and charity shops.
    Even then, the books to be found are of a limited range. I can always find unsuccessful movie tie-ins such as The Black Hole or Meteor, and it’s easy to see the reading habits of fellow citizens, but it’s rare I stumble upon a gem.
    That said, it’s not all there was a street market a few months ago, and I found a cardboard box stuffed with fantasy novels for 20 pence each, and I’ve managed to prop up my library with a few classics (such as Papillon, Don Quixote, The Castle and The Handmaid’s Tale).

    Still, I miss seeing so many books in one place. I should go to the library more, just to soak in the atmosphere.

  • Timothy

    give this a shot: http://www.aliasbooks.com/

    it’s over by the Nuart in West LA. Also near Cinefile.

    Might have to dodge a few crazy people walking around and some Hookah fanatics…

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