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Shelf Life : How did area bookstores fare in last Monday's earthquake?

January 23, 1994

At the Santa Monica Bookstar location Monday morning, at left above, many aisles were knee-deep in fallen books, most of the plate glass windows had shattered, and the darkened store stood open to Wilshire Blvd. Further west, on 4th St., the sidewalk in front of Eric Chaim Kline Rare and Used Books, above, was cordoned off where the brick facade of the building had collapsed; workmen were busily breaking down the upper floors before aftershocks could do the job less predictably.

A short distance away at Dutton's Brentwood Bookstore, Doug Dutton reported that "a lot of our books were on the floor, but the only case that fell over was the case that holds the Bibles. It's either an act of God or a heathen saboteur." When we finally got through to the Dutton's in the Valley, where all the cases were off the walls, Carol Hoffman said, "This is much worse than anything you've seen on TV, much worse than the '71 quake, we'll be closed all week." Volunteers were helping to pick up books.

At Chevalier's in Larchmont Village, Phyllis Winthrop noted that passers-by had stopped to help, but store owners felt it was better to clear up themselves, since volunteers wouldn't know where to put books. She added, "We've been selling a lot of earthquake-related books, particularly kid's books, like 'Earthquake' by Jay Gilligan (Bantam Books)." At Rizzoli Books in South Coast Plaza, the big seller on Monday was "Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country" by Peter Yanev (Chronicle Books), while at Waldenbooks in the Glendale Galleria the word was: "Everyone's buying Thomas Bros. Guides so they can figure out how to get to work!"

Staying Power: What stuck on the shelves? At Midnight Special (left below), on the Santa Monica Promenade, the curiously symmetrical arrangement left standing featured Arthur Ashe's memoir "Days of Grace," "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X," "Climbing Jacob's Ladder" and "Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years." (Perhaps this is commentary from Above on our readers' debate over specialty bestseller lists?) At Arcana, across the Promenade, which specializes in photography books, the lone book left vertical as the broken display window was boarded up was Richard Avedon's autobiography.

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