Dutton’s To Close, Beyond Baroque To Follow?

As has been widely reported, one of the best independent bookstores in Los Angeles is closing. Dutton’s had been at its Brentwood location for 23 years. I remember going there to hear Monica Ali, Michael Chabon, Jhumpa Lahiri, and many, many others. I was thrilled to read there when my own book came out in hardcover–a bit of a dream come true. But now, another Los Angeles bookstore is in danger: Beyond Baroque. An email currently making the rounds states that “[the] lease is now in question, and ends Saturday, March 1st. It has not been extended.” The bookstore will be renting the space month to month from now on.

The reasons for both these developments are essentially the same: expensive retail space, competition from chains and online booksellers. I find it depressing that, with such a disproportionate number of wealthy people here, no one is coming forward to help independent literary culture survive. Quite the contrary, the millionaire who owns the building in which Dutton’s is located has said that he would be willing to pay the bookstore’s debts, and forgive the rent, so long as the bookstore closes at the end of April.