Graphite & Acryla-Gouache on salvaged plywood
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For me, the success of The Last Bookstore is in the feeling you get that it has been there as long as the building, just over a hundred years. Perhaps this sense comes from the abundance of decorative aspects made from books and analog appliances, like telephones and typewriters, or from the architectural elements that remain from the original bank, like vaults and grandiose pillars.
Surprisingly, it has only been in its present location in Downtown LA since 2011. This knowledge, along with the lighting and character worthy of a fantastical movie set, might make you doubt its authenticity until you hear the tale of its conception.
In the short documentary ‘Welcome to the Last Bookstore”, founder and owner Josh Spencer describes himself as a ‘bookseller, father, husband and paraplegic’. He talks about how a love of books, and the hard-earned perspective of greater loss allowed him to dismiss the fear of opening a bookstore in this digital age.
To hear Spencer speak of the place is to know that although it is named The Last Bookstore in reference to the decline in new spaces for printed materials, it has instead thrived, becoming the largest independent bookstore in California, due to a recognition of our desire for the tangible. There’s a fierce loyalty among the people who come to be amongst the books.
“People don’t like to lose something that they’ve loved for centuries.”