Latest News From Iliad Bookshop, North Hollywood

Here’s the latest from Iliad Book Shop, the good news is that they are open!  Visit them soon to support this great bookshop.

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Hi Gang!

California’s rollercoaster pandemic ride continues… As of this last week of January, we are allowed to go from maximum capacity of 20% to 25%, meaning that we’ll be able to allow up to 25 customers in the store at a time. As always, please be aware that if we reach capacity (almost a certainty on Saturdays), we will have to ask you to wait outside. Also, as a reminder: you must wear a face covering/mask, practice six-foot social distancing in the store, and please stay home if you have any symptoms of or have been recently exposed to Covid. We have hand sanitizer and gloves available for your shopping security. Sorry, but the bathroom is not available to customers.

Sorry to say that we don’t have new dates yet on when we will resume buying/taking books for credit. If you’d like to donate books, we can give you a hand unloading once you’re in our rear parking lot.

We are making progress on our new Rare Book Room, which will be located adjacent to the main sales counter. Take a look at the photo just below, and you’ll see our dry-walling and painting is now done. Next up: new bookcases to hold those 300 boxes of rarities!

We feel hopeful about 2021, although it’s likely going to be late summer or fall before things start to right themselves again. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy

 

Dan, Lisa, Poul, and Brett (and Zeus and Apollo)
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Old Book Cart in Florence, Italy

Los Angeles Could Use a Few of These

by Paul Hunt

This Photo taken by Bookseller Arnold Herr:  He writes: >>  I looked through Bookstore Memories the other evening and saw your article on book carts in Europe and your request for other pictures.  Here’s one I took in May 1987 in Florence, Italy.  It stood outside the Medici Palace and was just down the street from a penzione I was staying at while in town.  Feel free to use it.

Thanks much, Arnold, we love the book carts.  Pre-Pandemic (seems like a different lifetime) I was occasionally stopping by the Goodwill Outlet store near DTLA.  They had carts similar to the ones in London, basically just a giant drawer on wheels.  Most of the carts were full of clothing, a couple with other junk, and maybe 10 filled with books.  It was madness, the clerks would push out a cart and everyone would have to stand back about 3 feet.  Then the clerk would yell out “OK” or “Go for it”  and the mob would attack the cart, stuff flying everywhere.  The book scouts who were looking for textbooks were the worst, they would just fling  books around.  Many books were shredded by this insanity, spines broken, dust jackets torn.  Picture a pack of Jackals in Africa, plunging into a lame antelope, biting and snarling at one another, occasionally nipping off a piece of meat, the poor antelope giving a final cry and then dying of fear.  That was the Outlet store at its finest hour. Minor injuries were common. Yelling at jerks very common.

I did occasionally find a nice pamphlet or book, but it was not always worth the physical abuse and the evil thoughts of what the fate should be to the reckless bozos throwing textbooks at each other.  The price was right, 75 cents a pound.  Back in the good old days of the early 1970s I used to go to the warehouse of one of the Thrift chains and buy books and magazines by the pound.  Magazines were 10 cents a pound and books were 25 cents a pound, and there was a staggering amount to plow through every day.

So a couple weeks ago I stopped by the Outlet to check the book scene, it was open, although there was a line to get in, and masks were required.  I waited about a half an hour, which isn’t so bad because all the libraries are closed and many of the few remaining bookstores are shuttered.  I got in and there was only one cart with books, an abysmal selection of junk, I couldn’t even make a mercy buy.  So much for the good old days of book mayhem. Social distancing has put an end to the mob of vultures.  At least back then you could get a few things. The carts of literacy are just more victims of the declared pandemic. Our culture may not be far behind them, rolling toward oblivion on broken wheels.

The True Cost of Amazon

American Booksellers Association and Other Indie Studies Reveal Shocking Truth

The true cost of the U.S. Government’s continued lax attitude about the amazon.com monopoly has come to light in studies conducted by the American Booksellers Association and other independent groups.  Amazon has a virtual monopoly on the book business, both new and used.  They also have similar status in other industries, and despite raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from the Pentagon, Retail Sales, and C.I.A. purchase of “Cloud” space, they still didn’t pay a dime of income tax last year.

That’s right folks, a profit of 11.2 Billion Dollars and not a penny of income tax.  Worse, they got 129 million back as a refund for “tax credits”.  The year before they made 5.6 billion, and paid nothing.  Click here for details on Amazon Federal Taxes.

Here’s some more interesting facts from a recent One Year Period:

Amount of lost revenue to State and Local governments:  1.2 Billion Dollars.

The equivalent of 39,000 retail storefronts were displaced by amazon’s monopoly practices.

Estimated 220,000 retail jobs lost.

Click Here to read more details from the report from the ABA.

It is far past the time that the remaining independent and used book dealers get together and devise a strategy to fight the amazon monopoly.  It doesn’t look like the government is going to be of much help, they are too busy shoveling hundreds of millions to them for Defense Department items.

Faded Memories: Santa Barbara Bookstores in the 1980s

Santa Barbara Had A Respectable Batch of Wonderful Bookstores As Revealed in This Old Flyer in our Archives

Folding Guide to Santa Barbara Bookstores

Map Showed Location of Book Stores

I went over the list to try to determine who was left, who had moved, who was gone.  Here’s what I found:

Again Books:  The Phone is disconnected, I assume they are gone.

Andromeda Boookshop:  Closed in the early 1990s.

Avalon Books:  Now Avalon Comics and Games. Moved to 10 West Calle Laureles, S.B. 93105

The Book Den:  Still at the same location.

The Book Loft:  Moved to 1680 Mission Dr., Solvang, CA 93463.

Robert Gavora Bookseller:  Moved to P.O. Box 448, Talent, Oregon 97540.

Richard Gilbo Books. I believe Mr. Gilbo passed away some years ago.  He was a very good bookman.

Hammer Books:  Gone around 2013.  His collection, or parts of it are at UCSB.

Joseph The Provider Books:  Moved to 10 West Micheltorena, Santa Barbara 93101, 805-962-2141.

Kisch Book Shop:  Gone, could not find.

Lost Horizon Bookstore:  Moved to 539 San Ysidro Rd., Ste 4.  Santa Barbara 93108.

Maurice F. Neville Rare Books:  Great stock of books, Mr. Neville passed around 1987.

Paperback Alley Used Books:  Still at the same location.

Randall House:  Still at the same location.

Ted’s Used Books & Collectibles:  Gone around 2007.

I could not find any information on the following:  ABI Books, The Book Barn, Drew’s Book Shop, Merlin’s Bookshop, and Northwoods Books.  Does anyone have any information on any of these?  Let me know and I will update this list.

Paul Hunt.  unclepaulie@Rocketmail.com

How To Sell Books In Budapest

Get Yourself A Quaint Old Book Cart

They Still Read In Europe

Photo Copyright by Lance Webster.

It would be fun to have one in Westwood or the Third Street Prominade in Santa Monica, but you would have to be a millionaire to afford the stratospheric rents.  There was actually a newsstand on the Prominade years ago, I think it’s gone now.   Even Barnes and Noble had to close down.

There are similar book carts in London, but not as oool looking as the ones in France or Hungary. Anybody have any  other photos of book carts like this?  Email them to me so I can share.  unclepaulie@rocketmail.com.

Once Upon a Time in Mar Vista

Last Memories of Sam: Johnson’s Bookstore

PhotoStory by Paul Hunt

The Bookstore was once the Mar Vista Library. I found this flyer stapled to the side of a shelf.

This nice color photo of Bob Klein was stapled to a shelf. RIP

This bookmark was in one of the books I got at the sale.  The website is still active this June day but will soon disappear into the internet ethos.

Just before the final sale there were about 10,000 wondrous books snuggled into shelves.

 

 

The Dollar Sale – fabulous bargains to those in the know.

 

The shelves started getting sparce, but this was a store where there was not a bad book to be found. All relevant and clean, dust jackets were protected with plastic brodarts.

 

Then, as time ran out, all remaining books, about 5,000, were free.

 

Finally, all shelves were cleared, the last book went out with a happy customer.

And so ends the story of the last big bookstore on L.A.’s West Side.  All the books have found new homes with loving owners who are grateful and excited to get them.  Some folks returned to get some additional shelving.  Many thanks to Richard, Janet, Petee, and Julie for help with this story.  To Bob Klein and Larry Myers:  Salute.  You achieved much to educate and change the world for the better.

Goodbye Bookstore Friend.

Archives Bookshop Relocates In Pasadena

Large Store Now Open In North Pasadena

Archives Bookstore, a long-time fixture in the Pasadena area has once again been forced to re-locate.  The good news is that owner John Wipf found a great location in the warehouse district of North Pasadena.  With plenty of free parking and a beautiful large store with great lighting, it is a pleasant place to shop.  Archives specializes in Religion, Theology,  Philosophy, Christian History and Christian Studies, and many related subjects..

Plenty of parking at the new location at 1232 N. Fair Oaks, Unit 10-B, Pasadena.

The entire long back wall is filled with Bargain Books at large discounts.  Plenty of light in this store makes browsing easy.

Another view of Archives massive inventory.  Congratulations to John and his crew for creating a great bookstore.

Archives Bookstore

1232 N. Fairoaks, Unit 10-B

Pasadena, Ca. 91103

Phone: 626-797-4756

Website link click here.

 

 

L.A.’s Westside To Lose The Last Large Used Bookshop

Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop To Close Forever May 31

by Paul Hunt

Westside’s Last General Used Bookshop

The Mar Vista area Bookstore is the last big used bookshop in West L.A., located at 12310 Venice Blvd., just east of Centinela.  The business started in 1977 on Westwood Blvd near UCLA, but moved to Santa Monica Blvd when the high rents drove all the bookstores out of Westwood, including the huge Campbell’s.    The travails of being subject to high rent eventually convinced partner Bob Klein to buy his own building, which he  did in 1987.  I remember that at the time partner Larry Myers did not particularly like the location on Venice Blvd., and would  not invest in the purchase of the real estate. Bob passed a couple years ago and left the building to a long-time friend.

Bob Klein

Bob Klein was a great guy, full of enthusiasm about books and literature.  He and Larry would visit me at my little shop in West Hollywood almost every week when they first got into business.  At the time, I had a shop called “Paperback Jack” in West Hollywood, but I was an active buyer and wholesaled a lot of hardbacks to other dealers.  Bob and Larry always found things to buy,  Afterwards, Bob and I would go down the street to a Shakey’s Pizza for an all-you-can eat lunch and then spend some time on the new video game “Asteroids”.  Larry stayed in the car with his home-made sandwich and a pile of books to read. He would rather skip a meal and use the money to buy a book.

Larry Myers

Larry is a knowledgeable bookman, and was usually in the shop when his partner Bob was teaching or out looking for book collections. They were totally polar opposites, Larry quiet and reserved, Bob outgoing and energetic.

Since their website could go dark at any time, I’m reprinting below the story of their shop as they tell it on www.SamJohnsons.com.  An interesting note is that both Bob and Larry went to Westchester High School.  Another bookman, Jack LeVan also went there.  His bookstore, Vajra Books, is still open in Inglewood, barely hanging on.  I will ask Jack if he remembers Bob and Larry from school days.

The following is from Sam: Johnson’s website, authored by Bob Klein.

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Who We Are

Sometime in the `50’s two kids from Westchester High School found joy in ransacking Los Angeles’ second-hand bookshops together

Larry Myers, the precocious kid who knew all about everything.

Bob Klein, the unprecocious kid who didn’t.

Fired by fantasy, they’d root up whole bookshops hunting rarities by H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood—the list goes on.  And what bookshops the city boasted in the 1950’s. Particularly in Hollywood.  Pickwick Bookshop had a huge used book section upstairs; Cherokee Bookshop specialized in fantasy; Larson’s, in the ghostly and occult.  The magic of THE BOOKSHOP cast a glamour that has not faded.

Some years later Bob went on to become a teacher.

Larry went on to become—but no one quite knows what he went on to become.  Probably he is still becoming it.

Years later still, in 1976, in order to augment his meager academic earnings Bob decided to become a bookseller.  His girlfriend of the time—the lovely Sheryl (whose hips stopped traffic)—backed him all the way.  Otherwise he might have ended up selling aluminum siding.  Not anxious to fail alone, Bob browbeat Larry into becoming his partner.  For opening stock, each was responsible for amassing 5,000 books—exclusive naturally from the sacrosanctity of their own private libraries.

When their respective closets bulged, their friend Frank Spellman (of Krown and Spellman Booksellers), who had himself decided to decorate the trade, bagged two adjacent empty stores in a building on Westwood Boulevard; one for himself, one for Larry and Bob.

Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop opened to rave reviews (at least Bob and Larry raved) in August 1977 with a stock partially enhanced by generous donations by J.B. Kennedy (of J.B. Kennedy Books), who pitied the two innocents. Another essential bookseller was Andy Dowdy (of Other Times Books), who patiently answered their stupid questions. “Ask Andy,” was their slogan when the boys became pathetically confused, which was most of the time.  He never let them down.

What we wanted.

We wanted to sell wonderful books in fine condition and sell them at reasonable prices. And we wanted a constantly renewing stock.

Above all, we sought the Magic of the BOOKSHOP (capital letters all).  A place of culture and wondrous surprise.  A place to be.  The Great Good Place.  We wished to have something wonderful for everyone: Affordable rarities for the collector.  Solid clean copies of middle priced books for the general good reader.  Inexpensive paperbacks for students and the other walking indigent.  As well as a Sale Section of good hard bound books, $2 apiece, 6 for $10.

After a rocky week or two, we learned to pay good prices for good books and to have the strength to refuse a book in less than very nice condition.

The Open Boat

The first ten years the bookshop sailed smoothly, except for breakers in the form of landlords anxious to drown. After three years our Westwood landlord amused himself by tripling our rent.  So in 1980 we moved to Santa Monica Boulevard, in West LA, two doors from the shop of our friend Gene De Chene, another admirable bookseller.  This time two landlords owned the building.  So they were twice as eager to raise the rent.  After eight years of yearly rising increments, in 1987 Bob decided to buy his own building on Venice Boulevard.

The amenities of Sam: Johnson’s include the owners’ personalities, along with a  Steinway piano, a rubber mummy, dummy rats, and a human head emerging from a pot.  It is always Hallowe’en at Sam: Johnson’s.  In addition we have our own rear parking lot and garden.  Above all, we have classical music, sometimes live (remember that piano?), other times recorded.  We occasionally offer signings and poetry reading (also mostly live).  We’re open seven days and strain to get new stock every day.

Intentions

To landscape the unparkable parts of the parking lot.  To build an arbor with benches for reading.  To saturate the area in flowering shrubs and visiting livestock like butterflies.

Addenda and corrigenda

In addition to stocking books we’ve written published by other people, we decided it might be fun to issue our own books.

If sufficiently tantalized, punch up Books we publish.

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Bookstores mentioned in Bob Klein’s history of Sam: Johnson’s:


Pickwick Bookshop
:  The grand bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard.  It eventually became a regional chain and was purchased by B. Dalton, who ran it into the ground, all now closed.  Check out our stories on Hollywood Blvd. for more background.

Cherokee Bookshop.  “The best used book shop West of the Mississippi” according to the great old time book dealer “Doc”  Burroughs.  Started by Jack. Blum, who  like Larry Myers always brown-bagged his lunch, even though near Musso-Franks. Upon his retirement he left the store in the hands of his two sons, Gene and Burt.  Burt opened the first comic book store in L.A. in the basement of Cherokee. He and brother Gene got to squabbling and split up their partnership.  The shop eventually moved to the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade for a while, but has long been closed.

Larson’s Book Shop.  This was L.A.’s premier metaphysical store for some time.   It started as mainly a back-issue magazine store, but got into occult and metaphysical.  John Larson died fairly early and his wife Louise ran the store.  One of our readers recently asked about the store, here’s a link to a rather lengthy reply with some information and gossip about Larson’s:

Frank Spellman (Krown & Spellman).  Big Frank Spellman was really a big man, he must have weighed near 350 pounds.  His specialty was Medieval History.  He later moved from Westwood to the Third Street Prominade into a narrow shop near the south end, where he operated from until his death many years ago.

Other Times Books.  Andy Dowdy ran this shop for years on Pico Blvd.  His specialty was Theatre Arts and Popular Culture, and he had an amazing stock of books.  He was an inexhaustible book scout and about as knowledgeable as anyone I’ve ever met in the book business. He ran the equivalent of a Salon out of his apartment on weekends, where book folks mingled with journalists, screen writers, actors and other literary folk.  Gus Hasford often was there while working on various novels and films.  Andy took ill some years ago, liquidated the book stock and moved up to Washington to live with relatives.  I haven’t heard from him in years. He was a gentleman always and I miss him and his gloriously fun shop.

Gene De Chene.   His bookshop was on Santa Monica Blvd. near Sawtelle Ave.  At the time, in the late 1960s and 1970s it was a great area for book stores and thrift shops due to the cheap rents.  Gene retired and sold the shop to his employee, a nice woman, (whose name I can’t remember), but high rents drove her out.  All the shops in the area are now gone, a long list.  Even Mrs. Goods Donuts is no longer there.  Only the Nuart Theater survives as a monument to the passing of our popular culture.

And now, soon, Sam: Johnson’t will sadly close.  The word on the street is that Larry is not in good health and wants to retire.  He declined to sign a renewal of the lease, and the owner has put the building up for sale.  Larry’s friend David is running the store, and scuttlebutt has it that Larry hasn’t been in the shop for months. Possibly he is unable to do so.  There are no plans for a public sale, and there is a rumor that the stock will be offered as one block.

A typed page, a note on the front door tells the last story.  A sad ending of not just one used book shop, but of an entire era of culture on the Westside.  The Westwood-West L.A.-Santa Monica area was at one time the home to numerious book shops.  Most are long gone, pushed out both by attrition and by high rents. One problem is that the younger generation has not gotten into the book business.  There’s no young newcomers opening shops.  A few places survive, Ken Karmiole still has his rare book business in Santa Monica, but all the used book shops of note are gone, like in other parts of Los  Angeles, almost a complete wipe-out.  Even the big Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica is gone. What this means in the long term cultural sense remains to be seen.  I doubt that anything good will come of it.  When a culture loses it’s book shops, its theaters, its art galleries, in effect the soul of its civilization, can it survive?