Why Saving Dutton's Matters
There are good bookstores and there are great bookstores. If you’re a booklover, any store that contains books makes the cut. If you’re selling books and you give us a chair, we’re there. If you stock a few harder-to-find books, pipe in great music, and hire staff that loves books as much as we do, we’re there a lot more often. Toss in excellent author events, pour some wine, and you’ve got us for life.
Yet some bookstores are greater than the sum of all these bookish tidbits. They possess a certain je ne sais quoi that can’t be quantified in words, but can only be absorbed by spending time among the stacks, running your hand along the spines, wondering which book you'll read next, what kind of world you’ll be transported to if you crack open the new book by a great writer you would never have discovered elsewhere.
Dutton’s is such a store. Dutton’s is not a get-in and get-out place. You don’t park, run in quickly to buy a book, and head off to run other errands at other destinations. Dutton's is the destination. Dutton’s is a place for lingering, for imagining, for simply being. Have you been to the outside courtyard to hear your favorite writer read their work and answer questions just as the sun sets on a lovely summer evening? It is — in a word – divine. It is a thing to behold. A thing to cherish. A thing that we have been lucky enough to hold onto for twenty years and it is a thing that was very much in danger of closing forever, thanks to the development of 60 luxury condos that billionaire Charles T. Munger had hoped to build in its place.
A few short days ago, Munger changed his tune (thanks in large part to public outcry and historical society preservationists) and has committed not only to keeping Dutton’s in place, but creating new digs for the well-loved Brentwood bookstore and securing long-term low rent to ensure its longevity. He even said, quite publicly, “I was wrong” about development plans and went on to say: “Bookstores are fragile. Jostle them slightly and they never reopen. The best thing is to make sure it never closes.”
Yes, Mr. Munger, yes indeed. We’ll be watching you and your condo planning. We like what we’re hearing, but we wonder if you really mean it. We hope so. Because a bookstore like Dutton’s is vital to the community it serves and we’re pretty sick of big chain stores swallowing up the little guys. We’re just plain sick of it. Are you a big guy waiting to swoop in or a champion of the little independent that could? Time will tell. We’ll be watching.
In the interim and forever after, we’ll continue to shop and buy regularly – at Dutton’s and all of the other independent bookstores that Los Angeles is so lucky to have – to keep sales up and the possibility of closure down. If ever there was a time to buy local, buy independent, it is now. Watch out for us Mr. Munger. Watch out for the locals who love their bookstores. We can become an unruly bunch when pressed.
Visit Dutton's @:
Dutton’s Brentwood Books
11975 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Photos by savemejebus via Flickr