Friday, November 23, 2007

Home to Hollywood bigs can't support a bookstore

Village Books in Pacific Palisades, California, an independent bookstore that was one of the more memorable stops on Burt Kearns' 2000 Tabloid Baby reading tour, faces closure and is asking for help to stay alive.

The small store is one of the greatest small independent bookstores in the country, the only bookseller in a town where Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Sydney Pollack and Steven Spielberg live (and for years, Arnold Schwarzenegger), where Gavin MacLeod replaced Steve Guttenberg (who replaced Anthony Hopkins) as honorary mayor and where Larry David shoots most of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Some of its troubles are similar to other independent bookstores: as carefully and thoughtfully stocked as it is, it's always be bound to lack the book you're seeking. And in this day of Amazon.com and chains, the process of ordering a book to pick up a week later is cruelly outdated.

Village Books, which is known for its attention to local authors, readings, and events like a midnight openings for new Harry Potter books, has more specific problems after eleven years. It's located near the end of sleepy main drag off Sunset Boulevard, a street called Swarthmore, which has seen increasing empty storefront because of rent hikes and far less traffic because the main attraction, Mort's Deli-- where Larry David used to shoot all his deli scenes in Curb -- closed and was bought up by former LA mayor Richard Riordan for a slow renovation into a new deli and bar.

To top it off, the place was bombed last month, as the local paper reported:

"After the bomb, made with chlorine tablets and alcohol, detonated, employees... began tearing from the fumes and discovered a device had been thrown through an open window, landed in the sink and blew up.... The bomb squad responded, closing off portions of Swarthmore and Monument."

Turns out it was a couple of 13 year-olds.

Now owner Katie O'Laughlin, an attorney who gave it up to follow her dream, says it's a more serious terror that could close the place for good: Amazon.com and big chain stores. She's running the SOS above that's getting some attention. Save Katie! Save Village Books! Pick up a book at the store or order one at order@palivillagebooks.com, by calling 310.454.4063 or faxing 310.454.4053.

By the way, Tabloid Baby is on display in Village Books, on a high shelf near the front window.


LA Observed said...

Village Books calls for help

Katie O'Laughlin's Village Books, one of the city's best and coziest small bookstores, says she's losing the battle against the big boxes and rising rents in her Pacific Palisades neighborhood. Also, there is the hit from Richard Riordan's temporary closure of Mort's Deli, which he bought to transform into a more upscale place. The Tabloid Baby blog talks about the challenges facing Village Books, which is asking customers to come in and buy for the holidays. Coincidentally, tomorrow's New York Times Travel section story on the Palisades urges readers to "explore one of the most secluded neighborhoods in Los Angeles," recalls the Weimar-by-the-sea history and claims "the Palisades has only one full-time police officer to cover this 23-square-mile swath of Los Angeles." Huh?

Anonymous said...

Has anybody else noticed that Tabloid Baby erases comments they don't like?

For example, yesterday I pointed out in this thread that the owner of Village Books made a poor business decision to buy an independent bookstore in a bad neighborhood, but that the rest of us are apparently supposed to bail them out because they display the Tabloid Baby book.

Today, the comment is magically gone. This is not the first time it's happened, either.

tabloidbaby said...

Hey anonymous,

We didn't erase your comment.

It didn't show up here or in the email copy box.

We appreciate ALL comments.

So comment away.