Alias Books in West L.A. is closing after 58 years in business, reports the L.A. Times.
The story is one we’ve become familiar with: the current owners of the space on 1650 Sawtelle Boulevard (they bought it over two years ago) intend to replace the building with a set of condos. “I knew it was coming,” Brian Paeper, owner of Alias Books, told the Times. “The plans had been approved. I don’t think there was any objection on the part of City Council.”
Paeper took over the used bookstore in 2002, when it was transferred to him by Ken Hyre, the original owner. Paeper and Hyre formed a friendship when, one day, Paeper walked into the store to sell his own books. His plan was to unload the weight and leave Los Angeles. Instead, he would come to inherit a bookstore.
The end of a bookstore is certainly sad. Though, as Paeper tells LAist, it can be especially difficult when it involves a used bookstore, as the shop grows to mirror its owner. Paeper had personally vetted many of the selections on the shelves, so Alias Books had become a kind of extension of him. “We have a big selection. We have books on literature, photography, philosophy. All these things also happen to be my interest,” said Paeper. “A used bookstore is a reflection of the owner and the people who work there.”
Expounding more on this theory, Paeper notes that his brother, Patrick, owns a second Alias Books location in Atwater Village, and that the store there has a completely different feel. “It’s his store. And it’s not just the books that are different, it’s also the atmosphere,” said Paeper. “It’s like a play. You have the same text for each performance. But when it’s being performed on stage, it’s different.”
Currently, there’s a 40% sale on all books at the store. Paeper says that the sale will remain until closing, which happens on March 14. He added that the store will also be taking in books up until the last day.
This may not be the end for Paeper’s store, however. He’s thinking about relocating Alias Books, and says it could land somewhere in West Adams. He’s even thinking about teaming up with another business (maybe a record store) to purchase a building so that “this won’t happen again.” He’s offloading all the books he has right now (leftover books will be donated to the Inglewood library), but if/when he gets a new location, he’ll get back in the game of re-stocking. “I guess that’s something I would know how to do,” he said with a laugh.
This forward-looking mindset attests to Paeper’s belief in the bookselling business. Even in the age of e-books, he remains confident that that the physical book has value for the reader. “A lot of younger people are still buying books. They realize there is room for both books and [e-books],” said Paeper. Though he makes it clear that he prefers the former, saying that “there’s an intimacy there, with the physical book.”