I wish I could remember the very first time I visited the Larry Edmunds Bookshop. But my first couple of years in Los Angeles were a blur of my visions of Hollywood translating into the real thing. Those months were hard, and because books have always been my escape, it didn’t take me long to discover the diamond in the rough on Hollywood Boulevard that is the Larry Edmunds Bookshop. I do know the first book that came from Larry Edmunds was purchased around 2010. This is due to my habit of writing my name, date purchased, and shop on the inside of my books. Writing in books is a habit that proprietor Jeff Mantor finds abhorrent.
Enamored with actually living in a town I had dreamt about for years, I longed to know everything about it. On recommendation from the staff, I purchased my first of two copies of “The Story of Hollywood” by Gregory Paul Williams from the shop and read it until the pages were worn and stained with coffee and wine. Now I had a reliable supplier for my Hollywood book habit.
Most Sundays, I would wander down to Hollywood Boulevard. from my apartment on Franklin Avenue, and always wind up at the Larry Edmunds Bookshop. I now appreciated the history of the place, and happily walked down the aisles, amassing a stack of 5-6 books, only one or two of which I could afford. Jeff or Sean would patiently guide my choice and help me choose the books I’d actually buy. Then I’d rush home and devour them on my rooftop patio which faced the Hollywood Sign. I read books on Hollywood history, film history, and my favorite - film star biographies. This was my happy place.
I found another perk of the shop was the events with authors.I faithfully signed up for the email list and kept up with which book was coming out and when. If I could not attend the event, the staff would reserve a copy and have it personally autographed for me. I’ll never forget meeting Hollywood historian Marc Wanamaker for the first time at the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, or hearing Robert Matzen discuss the tragic story of Carole Lombard’s fatal flight at the Santa Monica Museum of Flight with a DC-3 plane on display. I love that my copy of Stephen Michael Shearer’s Gloria Swanson is autographed to me - and sits right next to my copy of Swanson on Swanson which was tracked down for me by the staff at Larry Edmunds.
One of my favorite books on Old Hollywood is Cari Beauchamp’s My First Time in Hollywood. I walked in the store not knowing it existed. But when Jeff handed it to me and said “You’ll really like this one,” I knew that he’d be right. I venture to say I would buy anything they recommended to me sight unseen. That’s how much they get to know and care about their customers' tastes and interests.
My personal library from Larry Edmunds numbers approximately 160 books - not counting the posters and photos I’ve bought there as well. I regularly give walking tours or Zoom events about historic Hollywood locations or classic film stars. Occasionally, someone will ask me where I studied film history. My reply is “At the Larry Edmunds Bookshop.”
April Brooks Clemmer is a Hollywood Historian and the creator of the Old Hollywood Walking Tour. She also produces and hosts virtual events celebrating the iconic places and personalities of Old Hollywood. Find her at @aprilshollywood on social media or at www.AprilClemmer.com.