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Cook's Library bookstore to close April 30


After 20 years selling cookbooks to epicures in Los Angeles, the Cook's Library bookstore will close April 30. "I am extraordinarily proud of what I've done," owner Ellen Rose told Jacket Copy. "I wish I could be open for another 20 years."

Despite being located on the bustling stretch of 3rd Street east of La Cienega, she is convinced the bookstore lost business to online bookseller Amazon. She and her staff might spend 30 minutes with a customer, she says, only to have them write down the recommendations and leave — to buy the books over the Internet, she thinks. "Bookstores are suffering," she said. "It's pretty discouraging." And with the current economic climate, the bookstore faced insurmountable challenges.

Cook's Library was a presence in the community, at the Hollywood Farmer's Market and the L.A. Times Festival of Books. To stay connected to the community, Ellen Rose is considering getting back into a kitchen — possibly a soup kitchen — after the store closes. 

Beginning next week, the Cook's Library's stock will go on sale, with markdowns continuing until the end of April.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Carolyn Kellogg

Comments () | Archives (21)

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sadly, the books were listed at full retail (at least from what I remember). I loved this store and it was great for browsing, but in a day when prices are 25-30% cheaper on Amazon...it's tough.

Well, ultimately the book publishing industry, like the music industry, has cut its own throat by offering conglomerates deep discounts if they buy in bulk quantity. That sort of business has destroyed much of what was great about America. Gone are the Mom and Pop grocers. Gone are privately owned gas stations. Gone are independent movie theaters. Gone are independent bookstores. Now, we are surrounded by fast-food chains and enormously huge discount chain stores that only offer the most superficial product. We are a nation of easily led automatons who buy only bestsellers and watch our movies on Netflix. I am sad another bookstore has been crushed by corporate greed. We are spiraling into a national depression and we only have ourselves to blame.

I think the day is coming when we will not have any bookstores left, so all the people that were "browsing" so they could go home and order at 25-30% discount will just have to buy those books. I will miss you Cook's Library. I was one who bought my books at this wonderful store, just to help them flourish and be there for my next visit.

This leaves us with only one other: the very good Janet Jarvits Cookbooks on Washington Boulevard in Pasadena.

NOOOOOOOOOO! I live close by and always made a conscious effort to buy ALL my cookbooks and food-related titles from Cook's, because I wanted to help keep them in business. So sad to know that it wasn't enough.

As an industry professional I patronized this store frequently. Cooks Library was place where the latest titles premiered, and there was always the enthusiastic exchange of experiences, news of chefs, restaurants, recipe sharing that only a community business can foster. I was shoulder to shoulder with Splichal one afternoon years ago, browsing quietly. Discount prices could in no way turn my loyalty from a place that gets the creative juices going just by hanging out there.

Just as you have to pay higher prices for 'premium goods,' you also have to pay a bit more (hint: 25%-35% more) for 'premium experiences.'
Sure, shopping at the big A saves you some money, but it robs you of every single other thing that an actual brick & mortar bookstore has to offer.
In short: Thanks -- you're ruining everything!

I too love the Cook's bookstore, and am sad to see it go. I browsed it often--and yes, made many purchases. But I don't understand all the crocodile tears about the disappearance of bookstores. For all their charm, they didn't do as much for readers, or for authors, as the internet does. If I'm looking for a specific cookbook (particularly something older or obscure), there's an outside chance that the local Barnes+Noble will have it, or maybe Cook's will, but it's more likely not to be there--just a simple matter of shelf space. But on bn.com or amazon.com, I'm virtually guaranteed to find it. Happy reader, happy author. Ah yes, you're saying, but what of the charm of wandering the aisles of Cook's, where I'd be sure to find many unexpected volumes that I'd end up buying and loving? Well, that happens online as well, but with more variety and diversity....more of these delightful surprises to find. And I can do it at 2am, after the kids are asleep. (Forced to book shop during the day, I might never get around to it.) So shed a tear if you must for your disappearing bookstores, but don't think that it will adversely affect reading, writing....or even serendipity.

Oh, this truly is awful news.

This inspires me to support my local booksellers as best as I can. The more local businesseswe lose, the more out cities lose their defining character.

UGH! This is such terrible news on so many levels. I just recently rediscovered Cook's Library since I've been working in that neighborhood. My heart and sincere gratitude go out to Ellen and all the staff who so lovingly kept the treasured Cook's Library open for nearly 20 wonderful years.

Dear Kevin Stafford,

I'm not sure what you mean by, "For all their charm, they didn't do as much for readers, or for authors, as the internet does", as I'm sure you are aware that before the internet, authors and books survived for thousands of years. What the Internet has done is push out small businesses and left us with corporations that know very little about human connection or personal interaction. I too have stopped off at Barnes and Noble to buy a book. For my mother's birthday I asked for "Jimmy Carter's new book," unable to think of the title I was at least armed with more information than most book buyers have; "I'm looking for a book, it's blue and about this big (indicate size by hand gestures)", so to speak, of course.

What happened next is unfortunately the product of a part-time actor/bookseller; "Umm...Jimmy Carter? How do you spell that?"

I left, no book in hand. And though I would have left the experience happy and 30% richer (and perhaps a date with an out-of work actor), turns out I left 100% wealthier but none-the-less-richer.

And oh how I love to shop at 2AM when the stress of life has left my mind reeling. So you know what I do? I write down the books I want, go to an independent bookstore and spend an hour finding the books I want. Maybe if I did those sorts of things more often, I would have less stress and better sleep.

I'm not sure how to respond to your anti-touchy-feely comment without getting touchy-feely, as I find that is the entire point of the "crocodile tears"; It's the loss of personal contact, conversation and community. It can even be argued that strictly from an aesthetic pov, that B&N and Amazon have killed beauty.

It's unfortunate that the "Wal-Mart mentality" continues to succeed as it proves to cause more problems than it solves.

As for the rest of the comments, I find them heart-warming and encouraging.


Tehra Thorp

I wonder how much her rent was?

To Tehra Thorp:

The internet is not a monalith, nor the exclusive domain of big corporations. A lot of small bookstores are kept alive by it--I can't tell you the number of times I find old or out-of-print books from a bookstore in Cambridge, MA or Madison, WI, or Tyler, TX....simply by going to amazon or bn.com and clicking a couple of times.

For every lunkhead in a big-chain bookstore who hasn't heard of Jimmy Carter, there's a sweet old lady who owns a charming bookstore where cats sleep on the cash register and where you'll find "human contact" in abundance....but have more trouble finding the book who came there to buy. She'll be happy to order it for you, if you've got a week to spare and would like to come back a second time. I don't exactly see how that furthers the interests of readers who are searching for a volume, or authors who want to sell their work to willing buyers.

Have you ever spent an hour or so "wandering" the hallways of an online bookstore? You might be surprised--it's a magical, stimulating, wonderful escape....and one that always sees me buying more good books than I ever do on an actual trip to a bookstore.

You probably think me a philistine. I'm really just a book lover who likes to find what he's searching for.

Kevin Stafford

The Walmartization of America claims another valued victim.

Fox Books, the Price Club of the booksellers (Little Shop Around the Corner)

There are lots of little Mom and Pop stores on the internet. There's actually never been a better opportunity for small businesses to thrive on the internet with very little overhead, no rent, etc. And your customer base goes from a neighborhood to the world. You must become internet saavy to survive. Young people today do their socializing online to a large degree, and they won't go back. Besides, books will increasingly be published online directly by the writer or tiny publishing houses to the net, so they won't need big publishers, because there won't be physical books, and therefore we won't need Amazon or B&N. So there.

what a shame. next to the english bookstore in Trastevere, this was my favorite bookstore in the world! The Bazaar will miss you!!

William Douillet

What kind of amoral person takes up the time of a shopkeeper for a half-hour, writes down the 'suggested book titles,' and then goes home to buy them cheaper on the Internet?

I've seen people do this in electronics stores. They whisper to each other 'Let's get the price and then go check it out on Ebay.' I've observed elderly and very sweet-looking couples tie up the time of store salespeople, gathering intelligence so they can go home and buy the item cheaper online.

I am an 85% online consumer and have been since 1997, but never once have I gone into a store to bother a sales clerk so that I could get more information, and then go home to buy the product online. I think that is a despicable practice that shows the decline of our civilization, and our lack of manners, ethics and morals.

You can study an image of the Mona Lisa on the Louvre website…or actually perceive her “smaller than life” presence at the Louvre. You can spot the London Bridge in a travel magazine…or catch a glimpse of it as you whirl around in a London taxi. You can order a bouquet of flowers based on pretty pictures off an internet site (which may or may not be similar to what you actually get delivered)…or walk into a fragrant, colorful flower shop and selectively choose the arrangement of flowers based on the full range of senses. It is that same tangibility that is absent when ordering a book off the internet versus walking into a small, cozy, unique bookstore…such as The Cook’s Library…and having the ability to pull the physical book off the shelf and into one’s hand (with knowledgeable assistance, if needed!). That vanishing experience is what is lamented. (And Kevin…if you cannot appreciate this…then you really do not understand the discussion.) Thank you, Ellen & Tim…you will be missed!!

Sorry to hear about that! It's the real world & don't be sad. When you lost something and you will gain somthing!

One of my best rememberence from very short visit in LA was Cook's Library. I had bought my first English cookbook - and I had started learn English again. I described that place to my friend and we were so enthusiastic about the idea of selling cookbook and exchange experiences. In the end one of my friend opened very similar place far, far away from LA - in the North part of Poland. So the idea still existing! Thank you very much for inspiration!


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