More than a few bibliophiles would prefer that their prized possessions be kept in a bank vault as opposed to a bookshelf, but few actually get to see their dream in action.
Enter The Last Bookstore, an iconic LA bookstore with a not-so-subtly symbolic name housed in the grand atrium of what was once a bank.
The marble pillars and mile-high ceiling remain from the old bank, but in place of patrons and guarded stacks of cash, bookshelves line the walls and artful displays of books abound.
Not to imply that everything is brand new and sparkly. The bookstore actually specializes in reasonably priced used books, and takes great pride in offering a selection of well-kept vintage books as well. Anyone who’s ever loved a vintage book will know exactly what that means for the musty, decadent smell that hangs in the air in this seemingly sacred place.
Almost as if to make a point about beauty in disarray, the bookshelves are placed every which way all throughout the store, and sculptures have been custom-built from overstocked or damaged copies. There are even hidden nooks, like the old bank vault itself, where books are winkingly displayed.
There is a section of hardbacks arranged by color. Most of the fiction is purposefully unarranged, meant to inspire treasure hunts among shoppers. Every book in the upstairs section is $1.00.
In short, every inch of the place is designed to make book lovers fall in love with it, and it succeeds.
Update January, 2017: The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles no longer has an enormous area upstairs for $1 books; it’s shrunk down to two bookcases at the front of the store.