When I was younger I used to frequent a bookstore in Long Beach, California. It was called Acres of Books.
This place was like Disneyland for book lovers! I believe it had over one million books in it’s inventories, with literally miles of shelving made of orange crates and all sorts of stacked odds and ends. It was musty and strange and the aura of history hung over it like a sunburst. My hero Ray Bradbury was an ecstatic fan of the place. He loved it so much that he couldn’t believe that anything could happen to it. I too loved the place deeply and am terribly sad that the Smith family let it go.
Ray wrote this little diatribe that I heartily agree with. I love Long Beach, but the city was stupid to destroy it’s own history.
“Right now there are no bookstores in downtown L.A. That’s terrible. That’s stupid, isn’t it?…There’s no really big bookstore, Pickwick used to be there, it was a very important bookstore….Bookstores should be the center of our life. There’s no bookstore in Venice, California right now. There’s no bookstore in Ocean Park. There’s no bookstore in Beverly Hills. Jesus Christ, how dumb can you get! There’s not one bookstore in Beverly Hills! All those stupid people, wandering around, looking for ideas. That is such a dumb place. That’s why I’m here…This is my home.
If this place could be kept here, if you’re going to build a mall, they should build it around here. They should be the center of the mall. They should be a shrine. They should have a crucifix up in front. I will come and bless the goddamn place. And I mean that. I want this store to remain here and they can build a mall around it…It should be surrounded by other fascinating stores. It shouldn’t be moved. It shouldn’t be changed because it’s the best bookstore in Long Beach and one of the best in California.
There are ten million books here and other bookstores have a couple of thousand, and they don’t smell the same way. An old book smells like Egyptian incense. It’s great. It’s wonderful.”
After they announced the sale of the store, my wife and I went in for a special goodbye to the place that fed my dreams:
Sounds like a fantastic bookshop. Absolutely tragic that this one and so many others are closing.
Completely true. In the States independent bookstores are a novelty that you come across rarely. Where I live now, in the Pacific Northwest, you can still find some dignified book palaces. Thank you for reading!