LB's "Acres Of Books" Announces It Will Close Forever On Oct. 18
(Sept. 7, 2008) -- As first reported by the TheDistrictWeekly.com's Theo Douglas earlier today (Sept. 7), LB's iconic Acres of Books bookstore (240 LB Blvd.) will close its doors forever on October 18.
The gargantuan 12,000 sq. foot Acres of Books has been in business in LB for roughly 75 years (and at its present site since the 1960s). It's one of a number of lovingly cluttered, overstocked bookstores that once dotted the L.A., Hollywood and LB areas.
The property, in a section of LB's downtown that city officials declared blighted to facilitate its renewal, was purchased by LB's Redevelopment Agency for conveyance to developer for the "Broadway Block project" said to include [City Hall release text] "residential and commercial developments, as well as a public art center."
LB has two "Borders" bookstores (one within a few blocks of Acres of Books at the "Pike @ Rainbow Harbor") and two "Barnes & Nobles" locations, but with all due respect, none are like Acres of Books in content or character.
One can take hours savoring the offerings (often up close and nearly personal with other browsers) along its tiny, thin aisles.
The sun faded sign below says, "We may have the book you have been looking for! Thousands to select from. It costs nothing to inquire."
Famed author Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), a fan of Acres of Books for over a half century, was so dismayed on learning of its City Hall-decreed demise that despite being wheelchair bound, he came to Long Beach in June 2008 to urge that the store remain open...in no uncertain terms.
No city officials attended, but LBReport.com was on-scene and provided video coverage of Mr. Bradbury's passionate remarks. Some excerpts (part of extended video embedded below):
"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..."
"Libraries are better than schools. You can't go to a University and get a diploma. It doesn't mean a goddamn thing. You've got to go to a bookstore and a library and educate yourself. You go to a bookstore and find yourself. The surprises that you find on the shelves are you, represent the things that you need, not that the teachers need..."
"You do what you love and love what you do...So diplomas are not worth a damn because you come to the bookstore...I can get a complete education in this bookstore. I wouldn't have to go to a school. All the books that I need, I'd pull off the shelf, one after another, I'd open them up and there I would be. I come to this book store for the revelations of myself and I will find me in this bookstore. That's what bookstores and libraries are all about. Schools don't do that for you."
"[A]ll the talk about education only is important if we begin to teach books to three year olds, so we start teaching three, four and five year old children how to read and write so by the time they get to the first grade they know completely how to read and write. They they can go to libraries and bookstores..."
"...[B]ookstores 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."
"I love this place. I love the smell of it. When it used to rain...I'd come to Long Beach, I'd come here to the Acres of Books and I'd go in the back. The back section has a tin roof, and you can stand there, with the rain beating on the tin roof, making you feel good. And you're picking up the books. and you smell them, and you're alone with your loves in Acres of Books. That's why I'm here."
"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."
On September 6, as previously reported by LBReport.com, Mr. Bradbury came to Long Beach again, invited to speak by supporters of the Long Beach Public Library...whose Main Branch (nearby at 101 Pacific Ave.) was threatened with possible closure, relocation to an undetermined temporary site and possible permanent replacement with a smaller building. The move was backed by city management with support from Mayor Bob Foster (citing a City Hall budget deficit).
During his Sept. 6 remarks, Mr. Bradbury again brought up Acres of Books:
"Long Beach is part of my life. I've been coming here for more than seventy years. I used to come down here to Acres of Books way back in the '40s and I'm still valuing Acres of Books; I'm trying to help them stay in business too."
Although the Main Library may remain open with reduced days, hours and staffing (five of LB's nine Councilmembers have stated that they oppose closing the Main Library), Acres of Books' demise is a done deal. The sale has been consummated and demolition on adjacent buildings began months ago.
July 16, 2008
Acres of Books had been designated a city historical landmark. The store's website said the store had "grown to over 1 million books in stock, making us the largest used bookshop in California and a desination for book lovers from around the World...It is a mecca for bibliophiles, and is widely recognized as a unique cultural resource all over the region."
The location is in Long Beach's 2nd Council district, represented by Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal. Her City Hall website notes that she holds a Ph.D from USC in Policy, Planning and Development.