Last Saturday evening, Keith and I drove to Glendale for a Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra concert. As the crow flies, Glendale isn’t that far, but in the LA traffic world, it is an expedition away, so we haven’t spent a lot of time there. On the way I told Keith I meant to look up an independent bookstore to drop by, but forgot. As we drove past the Alex Theater, a parking space opened up (that alone is a gift) and I looked up as we pulled in to see Bookfellows Fine and Rare Books. The car barely stopped before I was out and in the store.
Bedfellows exuded a welcoming calm from the moment I entered. I flew in to see the store before the concert started, but immediately relaxed in the presence of one of the owners, Christine Bell, and the quiet atmosphere. Keith went in search of a book from the American Guide Series to add to our collection and found a copy of the first in the series, Washington, D.C. (we think it’s the revised edition after the “story” that Pres. Roosevelt read the first one and said he liked it, but it was too long). I was looking for an edition of short stories by Alice Munro (on the recommendation of Megan, one of our readers) but got stuck at Maugham and ended up with two books of essays.
The books are in beautiful shape and, as a result, the store is a pleasure to wander around. Bookfellows carries both new and used although proportionately there are more used books. Christine mentioned that their new book stock increases and decreases in response to the health of the big box sellers around them. Years ago when Crown Books moved to the neighborhood, they found sales of new books decreased so they concentrated more on used books. With Crown gone, new books sales increased and they responded. They found the same dance occurred with arrival of other big box stores. Currently, new book sales are strong. Next to the cash register was a shelf of new paperback books containing several Murakami titles. These were books that the store just can’t get enough used, so they stock new copies and highlight them. I’ve been hearing that Murakami books are flying off the shelves in several bookstores; the kids gave me two Murakami books for Mother’s Day and I’m looking forward to learning about this author.
I noticed a strong collection of science fiction (with nice signed Ray Bradbury books), mystery, espionage, thriller, and literary fiction. Non-fiction was smaller, Christine said that they do not carry self-help books and are choosy about which non-fiction used books they will accept.
Bookfellows has a nice selection of events in addition to author appearances. George Clayton Johnson leads an informal writing seminar on Wednesday evenings through most of June. A dramatic reading of Ulysses occurs next month.
Next time we attend a Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra concert in Glendale, we’ll leave earlier to allow more time for wandering the aisles of Bookfellows.
Bookfellows Fine and Rare Books
238 N. Brand Blvd.