Twenty percent of independent bookstores across the country are in danger of closing.” – American Booksellers Association


Independent bookstores have been one of the small business industries most affected by the COVID pandemic. Even before COVID hit, independently owned bookstores were struggling to compete with the low prices and convenience of Amazon, the rise of audio books, and devices like Kindle that encourage digital downloads from big sellers. To compete, many bookstores leaned into the unique characteristics of their physical location, becoming centers of community gathering and participation. From book readings by indie authors, to stand-up comedy shows, to simply existing as place to take your children that isn’t a park, independently owned bookstores offered more than just a place to grab a novel. 


Then Covid hit. A July American Booksellers’ Assn. survey of 400 member stores suggests that 20% of independent bookstores are in danger of closing permanently. Despite pivoting to online orders, these bookstores are still struggling to make up for lost income and are relying on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe to keep their doors open. Without these independently owned bookstores, we don’t just lose a small business: we lose a whole ecosystem of people who belong to the community. Initiatives like #BoxedOut, which asks book lovers to purchase from independent sellers instead of Amazon, or November is the New December, which encourages customers to do their holiday shopping now instead of waiting, book stores everywhere are hustling to get out the message that independently-owned is the way to go.


Below are some of our favorite small, independently-owned bookstores in the Los Angeles area. The next time you have to buy a gift or a book, consider ordering from them instead of a big online chain. Your future neighborhood and the diversity of your community thank you. 

Located in Brentwood, Diesel has kept their independent spirit alive throughout the pandemic by offering staff recommendations through their Instagram posts, along with curbside pick-up. Unfortunately, like many other independent bookstores who rely on foot traffic and community events to bring in customers, Diesel is struggling to make their bottom line due to COVID social distancing and has had to put up a GoFundMe to make up the difference. 


Since their September 3rd launch, Diesel’s GoFundMe has raised over $100k from their friends, patrons, and community members, but they are still far away from their $400k goal. With a few more months of quarantine ahead of us, purchasing from stores  like Diesel is a great way to keep yourself entertained at home for the one you love AND keep the community you love alive. 


How you can help: 

Share the love with them on Instagram

Contribute to their Go Fund Me

“Books change your thoughts, change your mind, change your life. Books change the way we see ourselves.” A family-run bookstore located in Baldwin Hills, Malik Books has served as a community hub for years, offering special events as well as a large selection of African history books long before #blacklivesmatter was the trend. 


Unfortunately, for the last six months their shop has been closed due to #COVID. Although they’ve pivoted to online sales & brought in delivery services, they still haven’t made up the difference in profit and have had to let go six of their staff, which prompted them to start their own GoFundMe page. Despite looking for help, Malik Books continues to give back to their community by holding book donation drives and using their platform to spotlight other Black-owned businesses. 


How you can help: 

Spread the love with them on Instagram 

Contribute to their Go Fund Me

The Last Bookstore has been around in many iterations since 2005, but even if you’re not an Angeleno you probably recognize it’s iconic “book tunnel” sculpture from hipster Instagram. The Last Bookstore’s used book maze, located on their second floor, was more than just a display: it was a work of art. 


Now that COVID has hit, indoor Instagram photo opps are no longer the destinations they used to be. The Last Bookstore is offering value in a new way: by offering curated book bundles. Mimicking the experience of browsing a bookstore and surprising yourself with what you pick, just fill out their online survey and they’ll deliver you a hand-picked bundle of books curated to your taste. With no two bundles the same, this is the perfect socially-distanced holiday treat for the book lover in your life.


How you can help: 

Follow them on Instagram 

Fill out the Questionnaire

The definition of the destination bookstore, the Echo-park staple, Stories Books and Cafe has long been more than a place to browse books: with it’s hippie-vegetarian cafe menu to it’s friendly outdoor seating, Stories was a hipster artist destination. Their patio hosted events from poetry readings to a weekly comedy show, and they had just been approved for a beer and wine license when COVID hit. 


Still retaining it’s punchy, independent spirit, Stories has re-opened it’s bookstore and cafe to socially distanced shopping from 10 am to 9 PM daily. 


How you can help: 

Read their story in LA Weekly 

Shout them out on Instagram

Founded in 1979, Counterpoint Records & Books is a genuine mom & pop-owned store in Franklin Village. Counterpoint sells used and second-hand records and books, and has one of the most well-curated collections out there: from obscure occult books, to signed first-editions, they have it all. Whether you’re a serious collector or a casual browser, it’s easy to lose yourself in their epic selection. 


In addition to being a destination for the discerning book lover, Counterpoint also purchases books and records, so if you’ve succumbed to Marie Kondo-ing your place during Covid, give them a call. They have a buyer on site every day and will even travel to you to evaluate your collection in person. It’s that extra touch that makes independent bookstores special.


How you can help: 

Spread the love to them on Instagram 

Shop their selections

If you want to support Bookstores click one of the links and explore the services and products supplied by these great shops.