The Last Bookstore—A Bookworm’s Daydream

The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA. Elena Marin/Vitruvian Post

Elena Marin

In Downtown Los Angeles, there is a bookstore that makes customers feel as if they’re walking through a bibliophile’s ultimate fairytale. As soon as I walked in, I imagined being in the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter series or the planet-sized Library in Doctor Who—a beautiful labyrinth of books that are old and new, to get lost in. This unique store is known as The Last Bookstore.

According to Conde Nast Traveler, The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store as well as one of the largest independent bookstores still standing. The Last Bookstore has a wide selection of books, there are over 250,000 new and used books on both floors of the store. There are books of every genre from classics to modern, to fantasy, to comics. If books from Barnes and Noble are too high priced then pop into The Last Bookstore and find books that are cheaper or similar that will leave you hooked. I know I have never walked out of The Last Bookstore empty-handed because they always have something for everyone.

The Last Bookstore had gone from a downtown L.A. loft to a two-story 22,000-square foot bookstore. The bookstore occupies a space that used to be the main floor of what was once known as Crocker National Bank—they seemed to keep the vault-like doors and created hidden rooms filled with books. On the main floor, next to the fantasy and children’s section there is a room filled with old books that make you feel as if you’re transported back to the Victorian-era. In the mezzanine level, right next to the book tunnel, there’s another room filled with crime and mystery novels.

Next to the shelves of theater books and other book genres, there are tens of thousands of vinyl records of oldies, rock music, pop music, and soundtracks. Against the wall, there are boxes filled with records that the bookstore sells for around five dollars.

But that’s not all.

Upstairs you will find a spacious mezzanine level, where the labyrinth above The Last Bookstore resides. The maze of books is absolutely exceptional, with plenty of books to get lost in, and genres such as science fiction, historical, and religious books to name a few. There are plenty of wonderful spots to take pictures such as the book tunnel, which is exactly what it sounds like, a tunnel made of books—however, be prepared to stand in line because it is one of the busiest tourist picture spots to be in at the bookstore.

The Spring Arts Collective gallery shop brings a lively feel after visiting the end of the book labyrinth on the second floor. The Spring Arts Collective gallery displays the work of five artists, filled with sculptures, paintings, and much more. You can also shop for souvenirs in these mini-stores at the gallery, however, they might be a bit pricey depending on what you buy.

In 2015, director Chad Howitt filmed an award-winning 11-minute documentary ‘Welcome to The Last Bookstore’ on the store owner Josh Spencer. Spencer said that he created the bookstore as somewhere he’d want to hang out all the time and that he sees how it worked for a lot of his customers as well.

“It’s their home away from home too, ya know?” said Spencer, “I definitely think the bookstore has changed other people’s lives. It’s definitely become a refuge for a lot of people regardless of whether they like books or not, it’s a place they come and hang out.”

And I truly believe in Spencer’s words. I believe The Last Bookstore has something for everybody to enjoy and that it will provide joy to every one of its customers whether they are book lovers or not.