Save Larry Edmunds Bookshop!
A personal message from Jeffrey Mantor, proprietor of Hollywood Boulevard's last bookshop .
Two years ago, the production team for a new Quentin Tarantino film about old Hollywood approached me and asked if they could rebuild the 1969 version of the Larry Edmunds Bookshop in its previous location, a few doors west. I agreed and watched with many others as an entire block of our beloved boulevard stepped back in time. Every night I would go out and see what new details the talented team had added that day. Only three establishments still remain from 1969 : The Supply Sergeant, the legendary restaurant Musso & Franks and this bookshop.
Founded in 1938, the Larry Edmunds Bookshop moved to Hollywood Boulevard in the 1950's and learned that people all around the world seemed to have something in common, a love for the movies. They didn't just like to watch them either, they liked to collect material about them: books and photos and scripts and posters and even camera equipment.
A Larry Edmunds catalogue was published and revised a few times over the years and offered everything from the original poster for the film "Frankenstein" to Bernard Herrmann's original score for the film "Citizen Kane".
I started here 29 years ago as the stock boy, working with and learning from the owners, one of which was Git Polin. She had made the first catalogue and all the subsequent ones as well.
16 years later, I became the owner of this legendary bookstore and all the history that accompanied it with legendary patrons from Henry Miller to Larry McMurtry to Michael Jackson.
It is a bookshop that has hosted events with director William Friedkin and stars Ernest Borgnine and Shirley Jones, where scholars of celluloid like Leonard Maltin, Eddie Muller and Kevin Brownlow have signed their books and shared their passion.
It is a bookshop where you could watch "I Dream of Jeannie" with Barbara Eden, "Laverne & Shirley" with Cindy Williams, "Gilligan's Island" with Dawn Wells or "The Dick Van Dyke Show" with Carl Reiner and get a personally inscribed copy of their books too!
It is a bookshop where, with our friends at the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian & Aero Theaters we have participated in screening/book signing events with everyone from Alejandro Jodorowsky to John Waters, Debbie Reynolds to John Sayles, David Cronenberg to Oliver Stone to literally hundreds more.
It has been my life, my privilege, to be able to play a part in bringing these incredible artists together with their fans and to keep alive and expand the tradition of the Larry Edmunds Bookshop.
Today however, like so many of our friends in Hollywood, be it tourism, filmmaking, stage or in the movie theatres, we are struggling. Our store is closed by order of the city of Los Angeles until the Covid-19 crisis subsides and our only income has been books that you order directly and that I have personally wrapped and shipped to you.
Certainly better than nothing, it is not enough to keep the store going. We are not meeting our basic operating expenses and I'm worried we won't be able to hang on.
I've followed directions for receiving aid, but as so many small businesses are learning this a slow and unpredictable process. My own bank told me to get in line for a "possible" loan. I have applied for a grant and will apply for more, but even that help (if it is approved) is going to take time and will only be supplemental.
That is why I'm reluctantly asking for your help today. I am not comfortable asking for charity and have resisted making this request, but I cannot sit by and watch the 82 year old bookshop that I love so much disappear through no fault of its own without making every effort to save it.
I am keenly aware of our shortcomings at this time. The need to develop our online store for customers is paramount. We also need to expand with podcasts and virtual signings, but all of those things are going to take time to develop and money I don't have the hire the personnel to help.
Perhaps the fate of a cinema bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard doesn't seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but Hollywood is a state of mind as much as it is a place. If you doubt that, ask our friends who won't be here this very week from the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, our biggest weekend of the entire year. The financial loss as well as the loss of community is significant.
So many professionals have come to me with stories of this store as a resource. Director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) sent away in his youth from Finland for books on directing. Mike Scully, Emmy award winning "Simpsons" scribe told me he learned how to format scripts from first buying them in this bookshop.
And that movie about old Hollywood the store gets a drive-by in was of course "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood". Mr. Tarantino told me he was thrilled to include us in the film because he had shopped here as a 15
year old back in the day.
Here's hoping we will stick around so that some other 15 year old cinephile can come here to find the resources to learn and study about their favorite films, actors and directors and get those "how to" books so they can be inspired to tell their own stories and share them with the world.
Then, that kid can follow his dream as I've followed mine. Mine is a "once upon a time" Hollywood story about how in the third act The Larry Edmunds Bookshop was saved and continued to operate like it has since 1938, the year before "Gone With The Wind" & "The Wizard of Oz".
That is my Hollywood ending- but I can't do it without you!
So please, if you are able, help me to Save the Larry Edmunds Bookshop. If you cannot at this time, maybe you can help us pass the message along.
Until we meet again, either in the store or at any one of the dozens of venues where I've brought books to sell, from the Queen Mary to Barbara Stanwyck's living room, I extend gratitude and thank you for your consideration.
Bookman for Life at the Larry Edmunds Bookshop
Instagram @larryedmunds1938 & @thelarebrary