Buy a Book, Save a Store


Looking for books to read during the COVID-19 safer-at-home orders? Bookstores have been especially hard-hit during the economic crisis and some are keeping their doors open (mostly for curbside service), while others emphasize online shopping. Here are some ways to shop locally for reading material, whether you’re looking for a specific title or just browsing.

Page Against the Machine

Store owner Chris Giaco says he has never completely closed for the pandemic, half-joking that he considers a bookstore an essential business for the dissemination of information. He’s stocked up on science and medicine books, especially on the flu pandemic of 1918.

“I didn’t have an online store before this started,” Giaco said.

So the shutdown has given him time to sit down and create a working website. Having a website has enabled him to take special orders, although he doesn’t have a search service for rare books.

Giaco says he’s had a steady trickle of orders during the COVID-19 lock down. He noticed, for example, an immediate bump in demand for racial-related books after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd on May 26.

Another of Giaco’s specializations is local authors.

“It’s part of the socially conscious mission of the store,” he explained. “Any kind of poetry and writing is, almost by nature, subversive.”

Details: 562-588-7075;

Venue: 2714 E. 4th St., Long Beach

Book Off

Book Off is a chain but the Gardena location has an advantage over other local branches during the COVID-19 shutdown, because it’s in a storefront instead of an enclosed shopping mall.

Different from many competitors, Book Off specializes in Japanese products, new and used. Here’s a place for Japanese manga, anime and literature, whether in Japanese or English translation. You’ll also find a vast variety of entertainment media, new and used — DVDs, CDs, gaming and collectibles.

Details:  310-532-5010;

Venue:  1610 Redondo Beach Blvd., Suite E-8, Gardena

Skylight Books

General manager Mary Williams says the store isn’t open to browse “for the foreseeable future” but there are online sales and curbside service since May 20.

She describes the store as “general interest” but specializations include literary fiction, children’s books and graphic novels. Whether you’re shopping for e-books, audio books, or old-fashioned books, you can browse the store’s website.

Let’s say you’re looking for two critiques of mass media, one classic, one current. The store’s website lists several editions of Upton Sinclair’s The Brass Check, but none in stock. If you’re interested in the 2002 edition, for example, you’re directed to phone the store.

Ordering a recent best-seller such as Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill is much simpler and more successful. Your biggest hurdle here may be choosing your shipping option. Store members ($25 per year) get free shipping.

Details: 323-660-1175;; Twitter: @skylightbooks

Venue: 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles

Hennessey & Ingalls

Hennessey & Ingalls specializes in art/architecture/design and was a Santa Monica landmark for many years, but they moved to downtown Los Angeles about four years ago. If you click on their “all subjects” link online, you’ll find they have a lot more than art, architecture and design, including poetry and graphic novels.

As of May 30, they’re offering in-store shopping. Their services include buyback of used books in their subject specialization, special orders and of course online shopping.

Details:  213-437-2130;; Twitter: @HennesseyIngals

Venue: 300 S. Santa Fe Ave., Suite M, Los Angeles