The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Bookdealer

Arnold Herr’s Screamingly Funny New Book Chronicles His Years Working at Cosmopolitan Bookshop in Hollywood

by Paul Hunt

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Arnold worked for years at the old Cosmopolitan Book Shop in Hollywood, owned by one of the oddest, most eccentric individuals in the history of the galaxy, Mr. Eli Goodman. I also worked at Cosmo, but only part time the last two years of its existence, until its demise a couple years ago.  But Arnold was there for around 20 years when Eli was personally running the biblio madhouse, and luckily for us, he kept his head down and his notebook handy. He originally wrote about the goings on at Cosmo  using a pseudonym for Eli.  His articles were published in the ABAA newsletter, later on BookstoreMemories.com, Stephen Gertz’s Booktryst.com and finally gathered together with new chapters, Arnold’s own illustrations, and a whole lot more funny stuff.

Arnold and I have both owned our own shops.  I knew Eli for many years before I worked there. I heard a lot of the stories first-hand as they were happening, and saw some flashing moments pass by at the speed of light.  Eli, although a complete eccentric, was also a brilliant man.  He had a great memory, was as well read as any university professor of literature, and was a kind man, although he didn’t suffer fools. Well, once in a while just to break the monotony.  He had the longest run of any of the individual Los Angeles bookstore owners, in great part because he had an inner toughness due to his growing up under difficult circumstances and living in the shadow of the Great Depression. You can glean some more about Eli, with some photos elsewhere on this website.

Eli Wallowing in Books. Photo by Paul Hunt

Eli Wallowing in Books. Just as I snapped this, Eli, almost dozing, jerked alive, blurring the photo, due to a customer pointing out a pile of cash laying on the counter. Photo by Paul Hunt

If you’ve ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes in a creaky, dusty bookshop crammed to the rafters with books, and run by Los Angeles’ number one champion tightwad, catering to an assortment of university professors, literary high steppers, book collectors, and the sweepings of Hollywood crackpots, then here it is.  Arnold’s story is bold, screamingly hilarious.  His pen pops with laughter.  If you don’t get the hoot of your life reading this, then please check into the morgue immediately, ’cause you’re part of the walking dead.

You can order this book from the publisher, Poltroon Press (click here to order)

2 thoughts on “The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Bookdealer

  1. This is an old friend of Eli’s, Doug Menville. I know I’ve met you in the past, at least once or twice. I used to come in about twice a year (his birthday and mine) to take him out for lunch during the last five or ten years of Cosmpolitan’s existence. I knew Eli from about 1965 and actually worked for him a few times over the years. We were good friends. I imagine Arnold will remember me, as we met many times in the bookstore. He has one of the greatest senses of humor I’ve ever encountered. I had been unable to contact Eli for several years and lost track of him after he moved into his friend’s home. I had a mailing address but not a phone number or email address. He did send me a couple of notes several years back, but then I stopped hearing from him. I’m glad you and Arnold stayed in touch with him through to the end. I very much enjoyed your wonderful article online about Eli and the bookstore, and I’m eager to read Arnold’s chronicle of the Cosmopolitan Years. I’ll try to get a copy on Amazon.

  2. Thanks Doug – they broke the mold when the Cosmo boys were born into this crazy world. Do pick up a copy of Arnold’s book, you’ll love it. Keep reading this blog for more on the lost world of the Los Angeles book shops.

    Paul

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