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Friday, May 2, 2008

Bygone Bookstore Memories


If I don't step outside my house I can almost imagine I am still in Valley Village by reading local news and blogs on the internet. I have been following the closure of another great independent bookstore, Dutton's in Brentwood. Right before I moved to Lakewood Ohio my local bookstore, Dutton's (Dave Dutton's picture to the left) North Hollywood at Magnolia Blvd. and Laurel Canyon closed. It was closed and I was moving. The sadness did not hit me until I was 2400 miles away without a comparable bookstore in my small town.

Valley Book City, that wonderful used bookstore on Lankershim between Magnolia and Chandler has been gone for many years. The last book I remember buying there was The Cleveland Street Scandal by H. Montgomery Hyde. The book once belonged to Rob Mckeun and it has his tennis shoe bookplate on the inside. Just down the street Paperback Shack is gone, a victim of the chains and redevelopment.

The Scene of the Crime Bookstore, which used to be on Ventura Blvd. near Woodman in Sherman Oaks is long gone as a brick and mortar presence. The last book I bought there was Vincent Starrett's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It sits beside me in my Dad's old bookcase with a small Dutton's bookmark poking out.

Only The Samuel French Bookstore, to my knowledge remains open for business on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. The last time I saw it was from inside the McDonald's across the street. I regret that I didn't walk over as a final gesture to nourishing the mind as well as the body.

My last visit to a valley bookstore was to the Bookstar on Ventura Blvd. near Laurel Canyon. This visit also provided my last celebrity sighting in Los Angeles. Angie Dickenson was there with a friend collecting books and being followed by a dutiful Bookstar employee. My Dad, a huge Angie Dickenson fan would have been thrilled.

I don't buy too many books anymore. I was forced to part with much of my collection in order to move across country. Lakewood has a wonderful full library which I find satisfies my need to be surrounded by books. But there is still nothing like picking up one of my old books, opening it and sticking my nose inside to take a whiff of that wonderful musty smell that used to keep me company into the wee hours of the night as a boy in Van Nuys.

3 comments:

Guitar Rat said...

I forgot one of the most wonderful bookstores in Toluca Lake, "Geographia". A wonderful map and travel store. If you love maps as I do this is the place to go in the SFV. Even in this day of Google Earth there is nothing like holding a map in your hands.

DarkkOrbit said...

Thank you for that. I worked at Valley Book City for several years, and the memories are good. I don't know why it closed, as we had a thriving business while I was there.
I also have a book with Rod McKuen's tennis-shoe face plate. It's a first-edition presentation copy of 'All Creatures Great and Small'. The inscription reads, "To Rod McKuen, from one animal man to another. Best wishes, James Herriot".

Guitar Rat said...

That was a sad day when Valley Book City closed. It did seem like a busy place. Just recently I was watching the movie 84 Charing Cross and it made me think of the book store.

That sure is a prize McKuen book you have. I vaguely remember someone at the store telling me they purchased some of his collection. Thank you for your comments