You may think you know the story of bookstores: how indies were replaced by chains, which were replaced by discounters, then superstores, then Amazon. You might ask, doesn’t everyone read eBooks now anyway, if they read at all? Culver City offers numerous shops to satisfy your bibliophilic paraphilia without feeding the Amazonian octopus. You will need to leave the City to visit a general indie like Small World in Venice, Diesel in Brentwood, Book Soup in West Hollywood, or Skylight in Los Feliz, but there are local options to explore.
Abba Padre Bikes And Books 4219A Sepulveda Blvd. Several racks of Christian religious and self-help books are available along with new and used bikes, bike repairs, and the miraculously curative Bragg’s Cider Vinegar.
Arcana: Books on the Arts 8675 Washington Blvd. In their own words, “Arcana: Books on the Arts is an open shop in Culver City, California specializing in new, rare and out of print books, catalogues, and ephemera on 20th + 21st Century Photography, Art, Design, Architecture, Fashion, Cinema, Culinaria, and Music. Since 1984.”
Unlike the former cramped storefront on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, Arcana’s Helms Bakery location is spacious and browsable. The staff are friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and there are frequent lectures, signings, and other events. While they offer some extraordinary items at appropriately extraordinary prices, in-print books are sold at list price.
Archangel Michael Orthodox Bookstore 4145 Sepulveda Blvd. Religious books, and CDs, icons, incense burners, and other ceremonial and artistic objects for the Eastern Orthodox community. The general public are also welcome.
Blue Bottle Coffee 8830 Washington Blvd. (The Platform). Peruse the shelf of books, selected by literary celebrities such as Carrie Brownstein and Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as a few titles on coffee, while you are waiting for your espresso.
The Comic Bug 4267 Overland. This deceptively small shop offers an excellent selection of comics and collectibles and hosts occasional author events.
Costco 13463 Washington Blvd. Warehouse stores are an under-recognized part of the book business, with K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco representing a large chunk of brick-and-mortar sales. Current bestsellers and a smattering of other titles are deeply discounted (keep in mind that the wholesale price of commercial books is usually 60% of the cover price).
Culver City Friends of the Library 4975 Overland. Squeeze into this room at the public library to choose from shelves of donations and discards. The selection is unpredictable, but there are always surprises, and the prices cannot be beat. They are currently running a $10 per bag sale: everything you can fit in a standard paper grocery bag for $10. Bring your own bags, no limit. Allow extra time to browse, because materials are usually only roughly organized.
Goodwill 4101 Sepulveda Blvd. Enter through the rear for a surprisingly strong assortment of used books for adults and children, as well as CDs, DVDs, and shoes. Items are roughly organizedshelved in broad categories and reasonably priced.
Import News 8830 Washington Blvd. (The Platform). This minimalist newsstand offers an exquisitely curated array of indie and international art and style magazines, plus artisanal boutique snacks.
Little Free Libraries various locations. You may have noticed birdhouses full of books in your neighbors’ front yards. The books are yours to take, but you are expected to return them or replace them with unwanted ones of your own. There are official Little Free Libraries, which are registered and mapped, so you can easily find the ones nearest you, like Bird scooters, but they are made from expensive official kits, so there are also unlisted DIY ones. It would seem that a system where people take books they want and bring back unwanted ones would ultimately generate a collection of the world’s least wanted books, but our tastes vary enough that this has not yet happened. Most owners also tend their collections, pulling the saddest donations and supplementing the community’s contributions.
Lundeen’s Gifts 9726 Washington Blvd. While specializing in decorative and practical gifts, from graceful to silly, Lundeen’s also has a well-chosen assortment of coffee table books on food, photography, architecture, film, and other arts.
Museum of Jurassic Technology 9341 Venice Blvd. The gift shop includes books related to their collections, among other souvenirs and artifacts. Pick up a copy of Lawrence Weschler’s Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder to further manifest the mysteries of the MJT.
Pauline Books 3908 Sepulveda Blvd. Set back from the street just north of the Peace Center, this large shop run by the Daughters of St. Paul offers new books on Catholicism, primarily from religious presses, with some appropriate titles from secular publishers. There are materials for all ages, in English and Spanish. All are welcome, but believers are obviously the target audience and will make the best use of the attached chapel and prayer garden.
Pulp Fiction 4328 Sepulveda Blvd. This large comics and collectibles store offers a regular 30% discount on all in-print graphic novels.
Ripped Bodice 3806 Main St. There is not only a romance novel for every fantasy, there is likely at least one series, if not a subgenre. The Ripped Bodice is the only all-romance bookstore in the US, and its owners are among the foremost experts on this genre, with both a NYU graduate thesis and a Sony TV development deal to their credit. They are also advocates for LGBTQ romances, produce an annual report on the representation of people of color as romance authors, and host frequent author appearances.
Target 10820 Jefferson Blvd and 6000 Sepulveda Blvd. Target features current best sellers for all ages, highlighting books by African-American authors from Steve Harvey to T. D. Jakes to Zane.
Timeless Treasures 9441 Culver Blvd. It is worth accommodating this Culver City institution’s limited hours to check out their large used book section. Over the years this shop has given me more surprises and bargains than any other, from obscure literary theory and philosophy books to a multi-volume German-language classical guitar method and anthology.
West LA College Bookstore 9000 Overland Ave. Surprisingly, West L.A. College has not moved textbook sales online: used and new copies of most assigned books are are the shelves here. There are no non-course books, but there is a good selection of school supplies and college logo apparel and merch.