The Slide Area No. 10/February 2008
the previous issue, I made reference to Larry Edmunds Bookstore. I am
devoting this issue – a special historical number – to a
reprint of an article from Picture Play, October 1930, pages 83 and
116, which is possibly the first piece published on a Hollywood
bookstore catering to the film community.
Boulevard Directory by Margaret Reid
the old days, the palmy days of art for art’s sake and such,
there was nothing a star liked better than to curl up in front of the
camera with a good book. No cinema castle was complete without a tidy
shelf of the dear classics in swell bindings. The library was second
only to the Russian wolfhound in popularity. For press purposes the
two were essential to success.
these modern times, you don’t see any more pictures of stars
with their Schopenhauer. You may think, consequently, that they have
given up reading. But that’s because you haven’t cast an
eye over the accounts at the Hollywood Book Store. Far from giving up
literature, the film colony has taken it up. Dinner parties
are now sustained as much by literary discussion as by studio gossip.
Hollywood Book Store has been flourishing for over eight years. On
the Boulevard at Highland Avenue, directly opposite the famous old
Hotel Hollywood, a shallow cloister separates its door from the
sidewalk. No architectural fancies distinguish it – it is just
a shop. But it knows more about the inner star than any other shop in
town. Taste in literature is a pretty infallible indication of
character, and Hollywood has few secrets that are not known to the
analytical walls of this store.
his best friends would probably be startled to know that a certain
juvenile of considerable boxoffice appeal entered one day and asked
nervously for a copy of “What Every Young Man Should Know.”
Then there is the character actress who wears smart clothes and a
sophisticated demeanor in drawing-room drama, and who buys every
James Oliver Curwood opus as soon as it appears. And dear indeed to
the hearts of the Hollywood Book Store is the famous ingénue
who fluttered in to ask for Havelock Ellis’ latest murder
there are exceptions to the general rule of local intelligence. This
store caters principally to a moving-picture clientele, yet their
stock is as varied as the best in New York, and their standard of
selection and sale just about the finest in Los Angeles.
Hersholt is an omnivorous collector, with a connoisseur’s
discrimination. He is not attracted to the moderns. Dickens is his
favorite and any old edition the store finds it immediately added to
the Hersholt library.
Barrymore has a leaning toward morbidity and eroticism, but
abominates anything unless it is masterful of construction and in
good taste. Every few days he comes in. Hat pulled down over his
eyes, he asks for his book, spells his name out to the clerk through
the corner of his mouth and makes a break for the door. Barrymore
aware of the limitations of her literary knowledge, Joan Crawford
seldom shops independently. Usually she asks the clerk’s
advice. She wants to know what is good and why is it considered so.
And then buys it. She recently disclosed a little-known passion of
her husband. Douglas Jr. is doing some illustrating, perhaps for his
own writing, and Joan bought the finest examples of Harry Clarke’s
and Alastair’s drawings for him. They are two of Doug’s
favorites and Joan surrounds him with an atmosphere in keeping with
his own venture.
Wolheim is the delight of the shop. What he doesn’t know about
literature just isn’t to be known. A brilliant wit, his
frequent visits are keenly enjoyed by the clerks, even aside from the
prodigious purchases he makes.
Moran is not to be taken in by the “faerie intellects.”
She likes vitality and a sure power between the covers of the books
she buys. And the covers themselves mean nothing to her. Special
editions, signed copies, rare illustrations, are never brought out
for Lois. Subject matter is all she cares about. Good books in cheap
bindings are her meat.
youngster with taste anomalous to her appearance is Lola Lane.
Fiction she buys now and then, but usually she pores over the shelves
devoted to science, psychology, and astronomy. De Kruif’s
“Microbe Hunters” is still one of her pet book. Any clerk
who ventures into a technical argument with her becomes a very
uncomfortable young man. For Lois knows her subjects.
Bow, behind roseate glasses, buys in one visit a hundred dollars’
worth of “wicked stories.” But she is so sweet about it
that the clerks are convinced she is only a little girl afraid of
forgetting her part. Thus the books are a character reenforcement.
The Costellos, Helene and Dolores, shop carefully and with taste.
Good verse and finely written prose appeals to them. Dorothy
Sebastian reads every play that appears in book form, and knows the
modern drama intimately, despite her Hollywood exile. Conrad Nagel
always knows exactly what he wants and is never “sold.”
you see, the clientele of the Hollywood Book Store is not only the
most celebrated in the world. It is also a very discriminating one.