Pickwick Book Shop (Hollywood)

(ca. 1938)^ – View showing Pickwick Book Shop locat at 6743 Hollywood Boulevard. Note the Spanish Colonial Churriqueresque design of the building.  


Historical Notes

Pickwick opened on Hollywood Blvd. in 1938. Owned by Louis Epstein, the store was named after Charles Dickens’ classic The Pickwick Papers, and was a book lover’s haunt for movie stars, among others.




(ca. 1939)^ – View looking at the north side of Hollywood Boulevard showing Pickwick Book Shop. Sign on side of building reads:  BOOKS - Old and Rare, Bought and Sold.  Other businesses seen here include: Gifts of Hollywood, Hollywood Travel Service, Sporting Goods, and Thelan’s Camera Center.  


Historical Notes

Pickwick was certainly the supermarket of books, for here one can find an enormous selection of new paperbacks, hard cover editions, best sellers and remainders.

But the store was not always like this.  The behemoth of a book store began in a very small way in 1925 when Louis Epstein purchased a tiny bookshop that was actually attached to a gunsmith’s shop in Long Beach.  The man who sold it to Epstein gave him some parting advice on buying used books:  “Don’t ever pay more than 10 cents for any book.”  Epstein used to recall that advice got him thrown out of some of the best homes in Long Beach.

He eventually moved to downtown Los Angeles, calling his store Epstein’s Used Books. His shop was near the old Dawson’s, and Epstein could watch the constant stream of folks going into Dawson’s, with little spill-over into his small shop. Epstein dealt in literature and poetry, but was having a hard time of it, all the while seeing his neighbor Ernest Dawson doing a pretty good business with a lot of the L.A. trade passing through his doors.^  




(ca. 1955)* - View of Hollywood Boulevard looking west from the corner of Las Palmas Avenue with Pickwick Book Shop seen on the right. On the left, a sign identifies the stage production of Oklahoma! taking place at the Egyptian Theatre. First National Bank of Hollywood, located at 6381 Hollywood Boulevard, is visible in the center of the image and the Chinese Theatre is present in the background.  


Historical Notes

Fortune smiled on Louie Epstein when a movie studio came in and wanted to rent 5,000 books.  When pressed for a rental amount, he blurted out 5 cents a day per book.  The studio folks were happy with that, and Epstein wrote up a rental document, which was to last for 30 days.  Time passed, and the books were never returned. Epstein called a few times but was given the run-around.  About a year later a truck pulled up in front of his shop and dropped off the 5,000 books that had been used by the studio as set props. The studio sent him a check for the rental for 30 days.  After some phone calls, protesting that they owed him $250. per day for 365 days, the studios said “no way, we only needed them for 30 days.  Sorry that we forgot to send them back on time, go pound sand.”  Epstein phoned his lawyer instead.  The attorney extracted the full amount from the Studio, a very substantial figure. Their lax business practice cost them nearly $100,000, big money in the 1930s.  When Epstein called his attorney to collect the money, his lawyer refused to give it to him.  “If I give you this money, you’ll just spend it foolishly buying more books and having a good time.  So here’s the deal:  you go find a building to buy and I will release the money into escrow, that way at least you will own your own store.”  And that is how Louis Epstein ended up owning the building on Hollywood Blvd. that became the mighty Pickwick Bookshop, opened in 1938 and concentrating on selling new books and remainders..^  




(1950s)* - Pickwick Book Shop at 6743 Hollywood Boulevard with the Western Arts Shop on the right.  


Historical Notes

Back in the day, on Hollywood Boulevard near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and definitely worth the trip, was Pickwick Books, three stories of book lovers’ delights. And way back in the day, Fitzgerald, Chandler, Faulkner, Bogart, Marlene Dietrich and many other celebs would haunt this place.




(ca. 1961)^ – Pickwick Book Shop after expansion and renovation with book racks in front of store. Photo courtesy of Bookstore Memories  






(1972)* - Customers examine and purchase books at the busy Hollywood Pickwick Book Shop as seen from the second floor.  


Historical Notes

By 1974, the Pickwick Books chain had expanded to 16 Southern California locations, many in malls such as Torrance’s Del Amo Fashion Center and Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates.




(1977)** - Customers in B. Dalton-Pickwick bookstore in Hollywood.  


Historical Notes

Dayton Hudson bought the Pickwick chain in 1968. He had started B. Dalton in 1966 and consolidated the names of all the stores in 1979.  The company was sold to Barnes & Noble in 1987.




(2019)^^ – Google street view showing the building that housed the original Hollywood Pickwick Book Shop as it appears today. McCadden Place is on the left.  




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