This place is so weird. I would not be surprised to meet a rabbit with a hat, flying on a magic rug offering everyone the choice of two pills: a red one and a blue one . Books are everywhere. They fly out from the shelf to greet guests. They lay on tables, rest on couches, twist whimsically up to the ceiling. An endless labyrinth of shelves sprawls across 20 000 square feet, harboring innumerable amounts of stories, facts, thoughts and theories. In the heart of downtown Los Angeles the portal to parallel worlds, The Last Bookstore, exists.
It was opened in 2011 when an online book seller Josh Spencer decided to step offline from being online. How ambitious and brave he was hoping that people in the XXI century would come to a store to buy books! Josh knew that there had to be something special to attract customers, something more than just a bookstore, something very different from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Something that makes people shut their laptops and go to 453 South Spring Street to buy a real, not a digital, book.
The Last Bookstore is a place, where you can buy, sell, read, donate, and discuss books. All possibilities listed above are fair game for vinyl records, CD/DVD disks and magazines. In the store you also can walk, think, admire, gain inspiration, hang out with friends, play hide-and-seek, shop art, watch art being created and attend literary, musical or theatrical events that are scheduled several times a week.
The first level of the store used to be a bank. Huge white columns in the center suit this place even more than a financial institute.
There are some warning signs at the entrance, like the bookish cashier stand or the whimsical installation above the front door, but as for the rest, this level looks normal. And it is normal, it is ordinary, it is just a mundane marketplace in comparison with that mysterious and charming upper level.
No worlds can describe the quirkiness that meets you on the stairs to the second floor. No picture can transmit that magic spirit.
Two flight of stairs lead visitors to the world of letters. To the universe of One Buck Labyrinth.
There are as many as 250 000 books in the store and 100 000 of them create the Labyrinth. The curvature of the shelves leads you through novels, memoirs, fantasy and science fiction. Every single book in this part of the store costs only 1 dollar, but with the spirit of magic and mystery their true value is much higher.
The most famous view of The Last Bookstore is the bookish tunnel.
Sorry, no books can be taken from this…wall, but I’m sure the staff can find you the same book on the endless rows of shelves.
Everybody who works here is a walking encyclopedia. Josh pays close attention to the hiring process. It’s not enough to be just a polite person to succeed. All applicants have to take a test with about 500 authors names and book titles. To become bookstore residents they have to be acquainted with at least 50 percent of them.
Think twice before you pass the heavy vault door to the right from the bookish tunnel. The people who created that room are devious. They know everything about crime and how to escape a punishment. Too much evidence inside proves this.
This is a crime and law section. If you spend some amount of time here you probably will know too much for them to just let you go. That’s why the scary bars are presented.
If you were lucky enough to escape and go further, don’t even try to count sections. They are endless. Another turn – another set of shelves. So easy to get lost that it would be better to have a compass just in case. And don’t rely on GPS; it’s a mysterious world and no hi-tech inventions work here.
Those who managed to pass the entire Labyrinth enter another world, The World of Art.
It’s a perfect place to understand what contemporary art means. Some masterpieces might be considered as too contemporary, but they are probably very successful. Most of them are even lucky enough to have a studio in The Last Bookstore.
No matter whether you are an art lover or a bookreader, the Last Bookstore is worth spending a couple hours of your life there. Why did I mention two hours? Try to escape the Labyrinth faster!
Address: 453 S Spring St – Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hours of operation: