I have spent thousands of hours of my life in book stores, from quaint mom and pop independents to giant chain stores. My heart aches a bit whenever I hear about a bookstore closing its doors for good, or see someone reading from an e-reader
SONY DSCor tablet instead of a proper paper and ink bound book. With every novel that’s downloaded on a Kindle or Nook, I feel like we’ve taken another small step toward the grave for the bookstores business

That’s why I was so delighted when I walked through the doors of downtown Los Angeles’ The Last Bookstore for the first time. In an era when so many bookstores are going the way of the Dodo bird (and record shops!), this store, which opened in 2011, is trying to keep the book selling trade alive. And it’s doing it with style. The Last Bookstore is an amazing space. First, it’s enormous, think cathedral instead of retail space.  Second, its owner, Josh Spencer, has designed the store so you feel like you’re stepping into a different world when you walk in off of busy 5th Street.

He’s also trying to show how bookstores can survive and prosper in the digital age by becoming a community crossroads for their neighborhoods. The Last Bookstore does that by hosting musical performances, parties, community meetings, and, of course, poetry and book readings.

The Last Bookstore is located in an old bank building on the corner of 5th and Spring in DTLA. The massive floor space, tall columns and arched cieling give it a cathedral-like feel. Along with selling books, the store's also turned into a kind of community center for the growing downtown community, hosting musical performances, book and poetry readings, and neighborhood meetings.

The Last Bookstore is located in an old bank building on the corner of 5th and Spring in DTLA. The massive floor space, tall columns and arched ceiling give it a cathedral-like feel. Along with selling books, the store’s also turned into a kind of community center for the growing downtown community, hosting musical performances, book and poetry readings, and neighborhood meetings.

More photos below:

Josh Spencer is the founder and owner of The Last Bookstore. His dream was to always open up a brick and mortar new and used bookstore, as an expression of his love for literature. He's also designed the interior of the store, taking his inspiration from Steampunk and Hollywood movies. As you can see, Josh is wheelchair-bound, but he says that hasn't been an obstacle when it comes to running the store. He worries more about just keeping his head above water financially.

Josh Spencer is the founder and owner of The Last Bookstore. His dream was to always open up a brick and mortar new and used bookstore, as an expression of his love for literature. He’s also designed the interior of the store, taking his inspiration from Steampunk and Hollywood movies. As you can see, Josh is wheelchair-bound, but he says that hasn’t been an obstacle when it comes to running the store. He worries more about just keeping his head above water financially.

The second-floor of The Last Bookstore is filled with design and decorating features, but the star attraction is this walk-through tunnel made from (what else?) books. Josh designed it himself with help from his dad.

The second-floor of The Last Bookstore is filled with design and decorating features, but the star attraction is this walk-through tunnel made from (what else?) books. Josh designed it himself with help from his dad.

The store is filled with folk art, antiques and just weird things, like this shelf with books taking flight. Harry Potter or Dr. Who would feel very much at home here.

The store is filled with folk art, antiques and just weird things, like this shelf with books taking flight. Harry Potter or Dr. Who would feel very much at home here.

The Last Bookstore is in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of downtown L.A. To make books avaialable to those who don't have much money to spend, all the titles on the second floor, shown here are sold for a dollar.

The Last Bookstore is in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of downtown L.A. To make books avaialable to those who don’t have much money to spend, all the titles on the second floor, shown here are sold for a dollar.

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  • Vince

    Great bookstore in the heart of DTLA. A must visit for any Angeleno or tourist. Here is a link to the store… http://goo.gl/maps/fFUuF

    • http://creativitycamera.com/ Tim

      That is a very creative bookstore. I think that you kind of have to innovate as you get more online stores surfacing and taking customers from traditional brick and mortar shops.

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      With every novel that’s downloaded on a Kindle or Nook.

    • Edgar Fotografia

      great link

  • james dennison

    I was photographing downtown when I ran across this bookstore. Because I refused to leave my rig at the front desk, I was perceived to be a thief and not allowed to enter. I'll stick to Book Soup, thank you.

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      I'm work with a college intern, voracious book lover who discovered the bookstore on a lunch break.

  • Cathy Deely

    I'm working with a college intern, voracious book lover who discovered the bookstore on a lunch break. She was ecstatic and overwhelmed but eager to go back again and again.

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  • Kate

    This bookstore sounds fantastic, but I did have to clear up one thing about e-book readers:

    My husband and I love books, so much so that our extensive library has become slightly more of a burden than a joy, especially when moving and/or downsizing to a smaller living space. That's why using a Kindle or iPad to read e-books has been great for us, especially in terms of saving space and not having to lug around a heavy book. I still buy actual books when I have the money – especially art or photography books that wouldn't be as fun to peruse on a screen, or favorite classic novels printed in special hardcover editions. I won't give up my library, but it's nice to be able to store more of my collection on a small device.

    • max fraley

      Where do you recommend I shop for photographer, photography, art and artist books (used or new)? Are you aware of this Saturday's L.A.County Estates Auction in The City of Industry which is selling hundreds of high quality used photography and photographers books. The former owner was a long time employee with the Getty Museum's Photography Department. CWS.com has a photo section on line of what they will have available. Pretty impressive

  • Lee

    Looks amazing, will check this out.

    There's a grammar error in the article: your/you’re.

    • http://americafactsheet.com James

      I've just been catching up on Dean Wesley Smiths posts and he seems to have come up with an idea that could be the future for book stores.

  • Bryan M

    Wow cool! Thanks, didn't know bout this!

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    He’s also trying to show how bookstores can survive and prosper in the digital age by becoming a community crossroads for their neighborhoods. The Last Bookstore does that by hosting musical performances, parties, community meetings, and, of course, poetry and book readings. alexis vaussenat

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    He’s also designed the interior of the store, taking his inspiration from Steampunk and Hollywood movies. As you can see, Josh is wheelchair-bound, but he says that hasn’t been an obstacle when it comes to running the store. blog in japan

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  • luciferwilliams

    it’s enormous, think cathedral instead of retail space. Second, its owner, Josh Spencer, has designed the store so you feel like you’re stepping into a different world when you walk in off of busy 5th Street. produits redken

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    Excellent Job for the The Last Bookstore…hoping you would last, so even the younger generation still get to feel the paper's fiber as they turn another page and get to experience a different feeling about instead of just relying to electronic gadgets now a ways. It is still best to do it the olden ways especially when it comes to reading, it just has a certain magic!

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    Cool! As a bookworm, this looks like heaven to me.

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    Wow this book store looks like it came right out of a magic card. All I can imagine when I walk into the store is that it'll feel like opening a new mtg booster box. That feeling of excitement and awe. The arch of books looks especially amazing! Physical poetry ;)

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    Gotta love the shapes and weird visuals of the books available here

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    I really like the interior design of the book. It makes you feel like "I am reading books and getting into the fantasies!" Very cool idea.
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    That picture with all of the books forming a wave is unbelievable! You could sell some of those books and start making money in college. Some really great designs with the books though!

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    Loving the photos! Love the HD shots :)

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    Love vintage and retro bookstore like this.

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    I will pass along this store to my friends who enjoys bookstore. Really love the smell of old books in bookstore.

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    Love the smell of old books in bookstores…

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    The bookstore is filled with folk art, antiques and just weird things, like this shelf with books taking flight. I feel so sad that the store is closing its door for good. For sure, those memories will linger in your mind whether good or bad.

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    Love retro and vintage bookstores!

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    Great! Will definitely check this out! Thanks for letting us know!

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    This looks like a pretty cool bookstore. Definitely gonna check it out when I'm in the area.

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    This is such a beautiful bookstore!

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    Love this bookstore! Will definitely see if I can stop by some day.

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    Love old bookstores like these.

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    I totally agree with your comments. Borders in Glasgow, a huge book store, closed a couple of years ago and it is a great loss to the city

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    What an awesome bookstore. I believe these are one of the best bookstores around where anyone can learn about important things. Smart 60 Inch Smart Television Reviews

  • http://www.calvinrichards.co.uk Calvin Richards

    Love having the actual hard copy of the books in my hand, so The Last Bookstore would be right up my alley. We have recently relocated our hair salon next to the oldest book store in our county and I have picked up some gems. The old classics are as relevant today as 100 years ago. Some things just never change.

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    This is excellent, but I guess the technology has changed the way people read. It's shifting gradually from reading paper books to digital books

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    Wow I love bookstores, the smell of the pages, can you smell it now? This is an amazing bookstore, thank you for sharing the perspective and photos!

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    I must say if I ever have a library in my house… I want it to look exactly like the second floor at this place! Quirky and awesome :)

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    Wow, after watching the photos of 'The Last Bookstore' (shown above) i can say the book store is awesome as i liked the design specially…of every part…every floor, Josh Spencer did a great job..hope i could visit there too soon possibly.

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    The second-floor of The Last Bookstore is filled with design and decorating features, but the star attraction is this walk-through tunnel made from (what else?) books.

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    I still buy actual books when I have the money – especially art or photography books that wouldn't be as fun to peruse on a screen, or favorite classic novels printed in special hardcover editions.

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    The death of the family book store has been a scourge to the American Reader. There was nothing like knowing the owner, walking in, and getting personalized recommendations. In these large chain book stores, I rarely see the same people for more than a few months.

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    That book store is huge! I love the way they have done all the unique things like the rollover books. This is fair better than any bookstore chain I have ever seen!

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    I definitely feel you on this. As were moving more and more to the digital age, the amount of hard-copy is falling. I miss the good ol' days of being able to spend upwards of two hours in a local bookstore.

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    I love the design and layout of The Last Book Store. If we had one in our local town I am sure it would inspire children to read more.

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    I had previously considered books too precious for anything but reading, but now simply reading them felt like the least imaginative thing to do. I arranged my shelves and rearranged them with some regularity. Books were no longer only vessels of art, but art objects themselves. The worlds and characters and ideas in their pages ceased to be real, becoming instead mere reproductions.

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    The are lots of online resources for period antique furniture that will perfectly complement a store such as this.

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    I do love bookstores, but it is so much easier for me to buy some books on my kindle as I don't physically have the space to store every book I buy in my room! Although I do hope if I ever happen to win the lottery to have my own library XD I still love going in book stores though, and I do still buy actual books.

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    I must admit that I read all my books, now, on the Kindle. But I sure miss the real book stores with the people reading in every corner, the smell, the feel. I remember it as a little haven. Thanks for this great post and pictures. Sarah

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