Better Know a Bookseller is a new feature on this blog where we’ll introduce one of our wonderful stockists. Publishing this series is only half the battle and the booksellers in these stores all over the world really help keep us alive. If you are a bookseller or know of a store near you that stocks 33 1/3 please get in touch!
Skylight Books in Los Angeles holds a very special place in my heart. It’s just down the road from Immaculate Heart, the middle school where I spent my formative years. LA has lost so many great bookstores (RIP Dutton’s where I had my first job) and Skylight has remained stalwart. Do drop in next time you find yourself in Los Angeles. -AJ
1818 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
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Answers by Steven Salardino, Manager, with contributions from the rest of the staff.
- Where is your store located?
In the lovely Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California…right between Silver Lake and Hollywood.
- Describe who is in your store at 5pm on a Tuesday. What are they buying?
People who don’t want to go home from work stop off at the store to pick up something to make their Tuesday night more interesting…to have a break between work and home…to see our cat…to sit under the tree in the middle of the store.
- Describe your most memorable customer interaction.
One of our author event hosts, Noel, was congratulating a well known author who had just had their book turned into a movie. Had the author seen the movie? Yes. “How was it?” Noel asked. “It sucked shit!” said the author.
- What was your favorite book/record store to visit growing up?
House of Fiction (used bookstore in Pasadena – unfortunately now closed) is where I discovered Kerouac, Bukowski, Brautigan. The South Pasadena Library is where I learned to read on a diet of Encyclopedia Brown and Agatha Christie. And the wonderful Poo-Bah Record Shop in Pasadena – used to be in a converted old house…flyers on the porch advertised Black Flag shows and they sold underground comix like Mickey Rat, Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and R. Crumb.
- What book or record sells very well but also makes you cringe?
The trend of books based on blogs is getting kind of tedious. Sometimes it is awesome like Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, but most of the books are barely focused photographs of animals in berets or babies eating bugs and those things you probably don’t need to own (unless printed on a spandex jumpsuit).
- What book or record doesn’t sell well but deserves much more attention?
We always make sure that those books deserving of attention are put in people’s hands – that’s our favorite part of the job! That being said, more people need to read Debt by David Graeber, Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell, and Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier.
- If an anonymous donor gave you 1 million dollars to use expressly to invest in your store what would you do with it?
Get a zeppelin to hover above the store and do home delivery, convert the space so we could flip a switch and light the place up like a disco, or probably, more realistically, channel it into a system to help raise the pay of the booksellers and keep the store going long into the future.
- What is your favorite time of day in your store?
Bookstores are great at night when people are coming in to see an author reading or hang out after dinner down the street. Rainy days are also fantastic times to be in a bookstore…at Skylight Books the smell of damp wood and brick makes the room so cozy.
- What is your favorite 33 1/3 and why?
At Skylight Books we are big fans of Erik Davis’ Led Zeppelin IV, John Darnielle’s Black Sabbath Master of Reality, Michael Fournier’s Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime, Jonathan Lethem’s Talking Heads Fear of Music, Matthew Stearns’s Sonic Youth Daydream Nation, and of course, Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion Let’s Talk About Love.
- Would you rather live in a world with no books or a world with no music?
The world needs both…the world needs art.
- What does the future look like for your store?
The future feels good. There are great books coming out all the time and in some ways we are even more excited by them because they are such a respite from all the phone/computer/television screens around. Skylight Books will continue to be here for your escape and education, fantasies and knowledge.
4 Thoughts to “Better Know a Bookseller: Skylight Books, Los Angeles”
That’s a posting full of ingtshi!
Have just gotten my dad into your books – tho he’s a Dylan nerd and has found 2 big errors in Highway 61, which really shouldn’t be happening! – and he told me last week you’re in the most gorgeous bookshop in London, Foyle’s. Quite a collection!
Ah … my old neighborhood (which I miss dearly). Nice to know they are selling these books!
This is where I’ve bought almost all my 33 1/3 books, including my copy of Fear of Music that Jonathan Lethem personalized for me. A great choice to inaugurate this column!