Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles

The Last Bookstore, Window Panes
Window pane art display on the gallery level.

The Last Bookstore is the largest used bookstore located in Downtown Los Angeles.  It was one of the places Gina wanted to visit when she was in LA because she loves books and knitting.  We took the LA Metro to Pershing Square and after lunching at Bottega Louie, ventured to explore the bookstore.

Firstly, The Last Bookstore is situated right by the Jewelry District, which is one of the sketchier areas of LA, so I recommend going with a friend.  The bookstore is pretty serious about security so I had to check my small backpack before going inside.  You'll notice the scent right when you walk in -- the air is a little stuffy and smells of old books, but what would you expect?  The ceilings are high and the lighting is dim so you feel as if you've entered a vault.  To the left of the entrance is a room of rare volumes which also had a beautiful gallery wall (I think I spied a Keane painting!).  It was fitting as there were many beautiful art and photography books that I'd love to own as references some day.  They also had a lot of great art volumes on sale! 

The Last Bookstore, rare booksThe gallery wall in the rare book room (left).  The entrance to the bookstore (right).

I think most of the books are housed on the first floor.  You'll find both new and used merchandise that spans old and more contemporary publications.  After we perused the shelves on the ground, we headed to the second floor.  What's unique about The Last Bookstore is that the second floor runs the perimeter of the building, so the center is completely open, giving you a view down to the ground floor.  Upstairs, there is a famous book loop and bridge that are favorite photographic spots.  Their horror section (hello, Anne Rice) was located upstairs inside a Horror Vault, which was neat.  

The Last Bookstore, Lumière & Lens
View of the ground floor.
The Last Bookstore, Lumière & Lens, book loop
Gina stands in the book loop, a popular spot for photographs. 

In addition to books, The Last Bookstore is also host to art galleries, Gather (a yarn store that Gina was all over), and independent stores.  She left with a bag full of books and textiles!  My favorite parts of the bookstore were the art galleries (pictures weren't allowed) and the little stores upstairs.  There was one store that had an entire display of vintage analog cameras!  It was hard not to impulse buy them.  One day, I tell you.

The Last Bookstore, Lumière & Lens, Gather DTLA, yarn store
The Last Bookstore, Lumière & Lens
Part of the railing on the second floor is composed of lights wound through metal.
The Last Bookstore, Lumière & Lens

If you like books, cozy art galleries, and stores with unique merchandise, I'd recommend taking a trip here.  Expect to pay a bit more for your non-book merchandise, but you'll be supporting stores that aren't corporate bigwigs.  If you love big bookstores like The Strand (the original one in Union Square) in New York City, then The Last Bookstore is the place you want to visit in LA.

The Last Bookstore is located at 453 S Spring St – Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

In the comments . . . what are your favorite books?  What would you look for in a used bookstore?


  1. There are so many hidden gems throughout LA! Bottega Louie is an amazing place (even though it comes with a hefty price tag). Oh man, as soon as you mentioned the smell of old books, my brain mentally recreated that smell. I definitely need to check out this place someday! I love their little pouches from the last picture!

    I know for sure I wouldn't be looking for something technology-related unless I'm trying to learn about the history of tech XD. Though, I would love to look at old music scores.

  2. That looks like such an amazing little shop! It reminds me a lot of a used book store near me in Texas. I've always tried to find the oldest edition of Winnie the Pooh whenever I go to used bookstores.
    xoxo, Sarah

  3. I remember visiting here! I love big crazy bookstores. I hadn't realised the neighbourhood was dodgy now that you mention it it did feel a bit sketchy as you say.

    Jane / deluminators

  4. I'm so jealous you've been there! I keep wanting to go but keep putting it off mostly because like you said, it's in a sketchy part of LA plus I hate downtown cause I find it too busy. But this place looks so cool!

  5. Wow, I'd love to visit this place someday! Just wandering aimlessly around bookstores is one of my favourite things to do. Definitely one to remember if I ever visit LA :)

  6. This bookstore definitely has character! Sadly, a lot of independent bookstores in Toronto are disappearing :(

    This looks like a gem and I hope it will live on. Love having paintings inside bookstores.

  7. I did go to The Strand the first time I was in NY. I would't think this place was in a sketchy neighbourhood until you pointed it out, ha. Love the book loop, I'd probably spend ages just wandering around and taking pictures too. I wish there were more secondhand bookstores (of this size) here...

  8. I love bookstores! I could spend hours in one! Would love to visit the Last Bookstore in LA someday.

    Simply Lovebirds