The Bookworm Labyrinth

This place is so weird. I would not be surprised to meet a pink rabbit with a hat, piloting a magic rug. Books are everywhere. They fly out from shelves to greet guests. They lay on tables, rest on couches, twist whimsically up to a ceiling. An endless labyrinth of shelves sprawls across 20,000 square feet, harboring innumerable amounts of stories, facts, thoughts and theories. In the heart of downtown Los Angeles the portal to parallel worlds, The Last Bookstore, exists.

It was opened in 2011 when a bookseller Josh Spencer decided to step offline from being online. How ambitious and brave it was to hope that people in the XXI century would come to a store to buy books! Josh knew that it had to be something more than just a bookstore, something very different from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Something that would make people close their laptops and go to 453 South Spring Street to buy a real, not a digital, book.

The Last Bookstore is a place where you can buy, sell, read, donate, and discuss books. All possibilities listed above apply to vinyl records, CD/DVD disks and magazines. In the store, you can also walk, think, admire, gain inspiration, hang out with friends, play hide-and-seek, shop art, watch art being created and attend literary, musical or theatrical events that are scheduled several times a week.

The first level of the store used to be a bank. Huge white columns in the center suit the current purpose of the place even more than a financial institute.

The bookish cashier stand and the whimsical installation above the front door are the only alarming signs. The rest of the first level looks like your typical, mundane marketplace.

No words can describe the quirkiness that meets you on the stairs to the second floor. No picture can transmit that magic spirit. Two flight of stairs lead visitors to the world of letters. To the universe of Bookworm Labyrinth.

There are as many as 250,000 books in the store and 100,000 of them create the Labyrinth. The curvature of the shelves leads you through novels, memoirs, fantasy and science fiction.

The most famous view of The Last Bookstore is the bookish tunnel. Sorry, no books can be taken from this…wall, but I’m sure the staff can find you the same book on the endless rows of shelves.

Everybody who works here is a walking encyclopedia. Josh pays close attention to the hiring process. It’s not enough to be a nice person to work here. All applicants have to take a test with close to 500 author names and book titles. To become a bookstore employees, they have to be acquainted with at least 50 percent of them.

Think twice before you pass the heavy vault door to the right from the bookish tunnel.

The people who created that room are devious. They know everything about crime and how to escape punishment. The overwhelming evidence inside proves this. Cold and heavy metallic bars welcome you to the crime and law section.

If you were lucky enough to escape and go further, don’t even try to count sections. They are endless. Another turn – another set of shelves. Better bring a compass just in case, it is so easy to get lost in the Labyrinth. And don’t rely on GPS; it’s a mysterious world and no hi-tech inventions work here as they supposed to.

Those who managed to pass the entire Labyrinth enter another world, The World of Art.

It’s a perfect place to understand what contemporary art means. Some masterpieces might be considered too contemporary, but they are probably very successful. Most of their creators are even lucky enough to have a studio at The Last Bookstore.

Whether you are an art lover or a book reader, it is worth spending at least couple of hours of your life at the Last Bookstore. Why did I mention two hours? Try to escape the Labyrinth faster!


Address: 453 S Spring St – Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Hours of operation:

Mon-Thur 10a-10p;

Fri-Sat 10a-11p;

Sun 10a-9p

#travel #California