Will the sad bookstore news never stop? Dutton's Brentwood Books on San Vicente "may soon succumb to its landlord's plans to redevelop the site," the Times' Scott Timberg and Martha Groves report this morning. I've often looked around the tattered complex of shops that Dutton's anchors and wondered how such a low-rent presence survives the real estate pressures found in the heart of Brentwood. Well, owner Charles Munger has been biding his time and now, at age 83, wants to make his mark. Regulars Dustin Hoffman, Diane Keaton and Carolyn See are quoted in the piece.
Arguably Los Angeles' signature independent bookshop, the store is a beacon for both prominent authors and passionate readers. A move would indelibly alter the store's identity, many feel. Dutton's, with its irregular layout, ripped carpet and books overflowing their shelves onto old flagstone floors, is considered by many to be not just a city institution but one of the nation's great idiosyncratic bookstores.
What's more, in a neighborhood where median housing prices approach $2 million, neighbors fear the loss of a quirky, laid-back community gathering spot. But a reckoning between the burgeoning Westside real estate marketplace and this rambling, anachronistic store seems inevitable.
Munger says his mixed-use development will include an independent bookstore at "ridiculously low rent," but Doug Dutton isn't sure that the smaller space will be right for the special culture of Dutton's. The Beverly Hills store closed December 31 in a dispute over rent and broken city promises, Tia Chucha is closing in the Valley and the Times' piece says that Book Soup is shutting its South Coast Plaza branch in Orange County at the end of March. (Noted: My daughter works part-time at Dutton's.)
Photo: Ken Hively/LAT