The past few years have been tough on bookstores, not only because of the economy but due to the increased popularity of electronic readers. We have sadly seen the demise of some independent stores that were forced to close their doors after years of being pillars of their communities. Still, some community stores have endured the difficulties and managed to stay afloat, in great part because they revamped themselves to be more than booksellers. They have been redefined as centers for culture – places where community members can gather for book readings, poetry sessions, story times and art and music appreciation. These hardworking and smart locations deserve your attention. Below are just five community bookstores happy to sprinkle your life with culture.
Laguna Beach Books
Old Pottery Place
1200 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Located in Laguna’s historic HIP District, this independent bookstore strives for excellent service and an outstanding book selection. Laguna Beach Books has a book club that meets every third Wednesday of each month, as well as regular Sunday signings and discussions with renowned authors. The “Staff Picks” are the opinions of the bookstore’s knowledgeable and book-loving staff, and can likely guide you toward your next favorite book.
1818 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
With its 17-year presence in the area of Los Feliz, Skylight Books has become home to a diverse clientele that includes writers, artists, musicians and trend setters. Readings by well-known writers are common occurrences at this bookstore. This June, for example, will see Ru Freeman, Alysia Abbott, Elizabeth Ross, Rob Yardumian and Chuck Klosterman. Events are added to the schedule on a regular basis.
Stories Books and Café
1716 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Perhaps one of the most welcoming bookstores around, Stories Books and Café carries new and used books and will buy and trade with you. Its café will keep your tummy satisfied with a menu that includes breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, sweets and more, and the many events that are held on its patio will do the same for your mind. At Stories, you can enjoy poetry readings, book signings, lectures, art and much more. Just keep an eye on the schedule posted on the website.
8818 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
With an aura very much deserving of Hollywood, Book Soup has a proud selection that has been satisfying true book lovers since 1975. It has regularly scheduled author readings. This week, for example, will see authors Luis Negron, Brian Boitano, Bruce Baffer, Michael Hainey, John Gilmore and Richard Lange. The Book Soup’s “Employee Picks” are famous, since they are the selections of its quite opinionated and book-savvy booksellers. Keep an eye open as you visit because the Book Soup is also famous for its celebrity clientele.
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
The largest and oldest independent store in Southern California, Vroman’s is definitely a community store. It organizes events almost daily, some of them so large that they must be moved to nearby locations to accommodate the crowds. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., the store holds the “Storytime with Mr. Steve,” which will certainly entertain your youngsters. Author readings happen often and you can take your pick by checking the schedule posted on the website.
Dena Burroughs is a freelance writer living in Azusa, CA. She is a CSULA graduate with specialties in Creative Writing and Communications. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.