The 5 Best Independent Bookstores in Los Angeles

Here's where to pick up the next book you can't put down

June 18, 2024 6:15 am
Zibby's Bookshop in Los Angeles, Credit: Innis Casey Photography
Situated at the heart of Santa Monica's Montana Avenue, the ambience of Zibby's is airy and buoyant.
Innis Casey Photography

Life in L.A. can be fast-paced, hectic and stressful. To help combat it all, it’s possible you turn to working out, hiking, brunching or grabbing beers with friends. But allow us to suggest another remedy: visiting a local bookstore. These serene spaces are good for the soul, and all but guaranteed to smooth away the edges of your anxiety (so basically they’re an alternative to popping a beta blocker). Luckily, from the East Side to the ocean, L.A. has plenty of top-tier independent bookstores perfect for slowing down, getting inspired, reconnecting with your local community and, of course, finding your next favorite book. To do our part to make your life a little less stressful, we’ve narrowed down the city’s best bookstores to the five indies we think you’ll enjoy most (plus four specialty shops we love, as a bonus). Happy perusing.

For nearly 50 years, Book Soup have billed themselves as the "bookseller to the great and infamous"
For nearly 50 years, Book Soup has billed itself as the “bookseller to the great and infamous.”
Russell Gearhart

Book Soup

West Hollywood

Opened in 1975, Book Soup is an L.A. institution. For nearly 50 years, the shop has billed itself as the “bookseller to the great and infamous” on account of their location on the Sunset Strip (at the base of the Hollywood Hills) and the fact that it wouldn’t be unusual to spot someone recognizable looking for their next read here. Inside, you’ll find tidy, floor-to-ceiling shelves that hold over 60,000 titles spread throughout just a few cozy rooms. While they have all today’s trending books, plenty of works from up-and-coming authors and a good selection of signed copies, they also specialize in books on art, film, photography and music — so be sure to give these sections a closer look. To make it all a bit less overwhelming, check out the “Staff Pick” cards hanging off shelves throughout the store.

8818 Sunset Blvd

The booksellers at Skylight Books curate an events calendar, with authors stopping by most days of the week.
Skylight Books frequently hosts events, with authors stopping by most days of the week.
Courtesy of Skylight Books

Skylight Books

Los Feliz

Conveniently located in the heart of Los Feliz and directly next door to the historic Los Feliz Theater, Skylight Books has been one of L.A.’s favorite bookstores since it opened in 1992. General in scope, they carry a sizable inventory across numerous categories, from fiction to graphic novels to children’s books and everything in between. This means whether you’re looking for the latest best-seller or something more offbeat, chances are they’ll have it. The book-obsessed folks here also maintain a nicely curated events calendar (with authors stopping by most days of the week), and produce their very own podcast (which includes recurring episodes where they compare books to their movie adaptations). Vibe-wise, the space is airy and filled with light thanks to the high wood ceilings and several skylights, all of which allow a large ficus tree to stand tall at the store’s center. Finally, to complete the perfect neighborhood bookstore aesthetic, there’s even a resident cat that presides over the place. 

1818 N Vermont Ave

Located in the heart of Montana Ave, Zibby’s feels more like the nicest small library you’ve been in than a bookstore
Located in the heart of Montana Avenue, Zibby’s feels more like the nicest small library you’ve ever been in than a bookstore.
Courtesy of Innis Casey Photography

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica

Situated at the heart of Santa Monica’s walkable Montana Avenue, compact and bright Zibby’s feels more like the nicest small library you’ve ever been in than a bookstore. The space features a central seating area, a corner filled with children’s books, and a tidy, floor-to-ceiling shelving unit running the length of one wall (complete with a sliding ladder). The driving force behind it all is Zibby Owens, an author, book podcaster and owner of the independent literary press Zibby Books. Owens’s book recommendations, along with those from her team and guest authors, can be found throughout the store, but it’s the shop’s unique sorting system that’ll likely lead you to your next favorite read. Here, books are arranged according to reader interests (e.g., books for foodies or music lovers) and by which emotions the book may illicit (e.g., whether the book will make you laugh, cry, tremble, etc). And in true L.A. style, there’s also a section dedicated to books recently optioned for film and TV adaptations — so you too can be one of those people who watch the next big Netflix show and say “the book was better.”

1113 Montana Ave

The Last Bookstore 


The Last Bookstore is more than just a place to grab a book, it’s an experience. Upon entering from the bustling streets of downtown, you’ll be enveloped by a cavernous room with towering pillars and ornate ceilings — remnants of the 100-year-old bank that first occupied this space. From here, you’ll have 22,000 square feet, two floors and an estimated quarter-million books to explore. As you venture deeper, you’ll find a record store, comic book store, art studios, yarn shop, coffee bar, horror books housed in the old bank vault, and whimsical, literary-themed art installations. The Last Bookstore also sells used books, including a huge selection for just $1, and buys them too, so come with a boxful when you’re ready to clean out your bookshelf and restock. If money is no object, visit the Annex to check out prized first editions, rare photo books and other collectibles.

453 S Spring St Ground Floor

Bonus: Lost Books

In 2021, the owners of the Last Bookstore opened Lost Books in Montrose (if you’ve never been, it’s a quaint area directly north of Glendale with a great main street lined with shops, bars and restaurants). Comparatively, it’s much smaller and more tame than its predecesor, but it’s just as whimsical on account of the shop’s jungle-like amount of plants (that are also for sale).  

2233 Honolulu Ave, Montrose

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Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park 

More so than most other bookstores in L.A., Stories Books & Cafe feels like a place you’d serendipitously stumble upon in a much smaller city. This comes from the fact that the space feels lived in, well-loved and slightly imperfect in the best way possible, as well as from the sense that this is a real community gathering place. Aside from traditional bookstore events, like readings and signings, Stories also hosts trivia nights, live music and group art gatherings. Then, of course, there’s the cafe at the back of the store that brings in laptop-totting neighborhood locals who post up at one of the tables and spend a few hours working. The cafe serves a full coffee menu, a small selection of beer and wine, and a concise food menu with items like an egg-and-cheese bagel and an arugula feta salad — so it really is a spot you could spend the better part of a day. Book-wise, the packed shelves hold an expansive selection, which includes an incredibly well-curated selection of new releases as well as affordably-priced used books.

1716 Sunset Blvd

Beverly Hills's TASCHEN specializes in high-end art books
Taschen in Beverly Hills specializes in high-end art books.
Courtesy of TASCHEN

Plus, four speciality bookstores worth knowing about:

  • Now Serving (Chinatown): Located in Far East Plaza, this is the place to come for cookbooks and other food-related releases. It also happens to be located next door to one of L.A.’s best coffee shops, Endorffeine.
  • Secret Headquarters (Atwater Village): An aptly named shop dedicated to comic books and graphic novels.
  • Dark Delicacies (Burbank): If needing to sleep with the lights on after your nightly reading routine is your thing, here’s a full store dedicated to books of the horror genre.
  • Taschen (Beverly Hills): Looking for something fancy for your coffee table? This publisher of high-end art books has a store a block from Rodeo Drive which will be the swankiest bookshop you’ll ever step foot in.

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