What began in 2005 as a small shop in a downtown loft is now an almost 20,000-square-foot cathedral of books. Its current location is at the corner of Fifth and Spring Streets, in what used to be the Crocker National Bank.
If you don’t look up, the ground floor might be mistaken for a regular bookstore. A small coffee bar flanks one entrance, while waist-level bins full of vinyl records border the other; oversized leather couches dot the floor plan, and the space is divided by tall shelves laden with books. There’s a satisfying selection of used books, a few subject-based sections and some areas curated tenderly by staff, as well as a comprehensive array of new titles.
But stray from the center of the store or let your eyes wander to the edges or the ceiling and you notice that the Last Bookstore is something unusual. Books are suspended, their pages spread like wings; mannequins covered in printed letters and collaged phrases stand in corners; a large mural made from wire and paperbacks stretches like a whale shark along the mezzanine level.
Ascend to the Labyrinth upstairs and you feel as though you have gone through the looking glass. Every book on the second floor is only a dollar: new, used, hardcover, paperback, pop-up, spiral-bound, and everything in between. Tens of thousands of books line shelves, stand in tidy stacks on the floor, sort themselves by color, form tunnels, fill vaults, and stretch like scrolls along the ceiling.
By the way, I'm told Cep's information is a little out of date. Some books costing more than $1 have been relocated upstairs recently.
The counter at The Last Bookstore is supported by books. LA Observed photo by Judy Graeme