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June 24, 2009

Comments

Leslie

Sorry for you guys, but happy for us DC folks. This was a wonderful store, and I welcome its return.

Frances

Just like Leslie, good news for those of us here in DC where the weather is somewhat less lovely. Details on where and when they will open?

Niall

It's interesting to me that Metropolis Books can survive in the middle of skid row in downtown LA, but Kulturas can't survive in Santa Monica.

I guess it's all down to foot traffic...

Jacob Silverman

KULTURA is a great store (they also had another Santa Monica location that I liked but closed a year or two ago), but the books are not well displayed or organized, even by some used bookstore standards, and they sell a lot of non-book merchandise. This variety may add to the charm of the place, but it may also have contributed to problems of store identity and profitability. They could have displayed books more prominently -- at least invest in a few more bookshelves -- rather than just leaving them double-stacked on existing shelves and in piles on the floor. Even so, I really wish them well and will be stopping by before it closes to comb through.

Alessandro Cima

What I see, after reading the articles about this bookstore failure, are a series of extraordinarily poor business decisions by the business owners. Everyone in Los Angeles knows to a man that you have to be very careful opening a store in downtown L.A. There's absolutely no one in downtown L.A. on a weekend or after 6:30 pm on a weekday. Not a single solitary little soul. Metropolis Books is there and is working out well. But they are located on Main Street right in the middle of the quickly improving hip arts section that's loaded with galleries and restaurants.

And opening in Santa Monica is not a good decision. People there are looking for parking at the beach. They are trying to afford their high rents and mortgages. They are most certainly not buying books and will not be for the foreseeable future.

I am not inclined to mourn for or apologize to businesses that seek out their own destruction.

There isn't even a Kultura Books web site. Come on. Really.

Alessandro Cima

Well, nevermind, they do have a web site... sort of. Not really. More like an online business card. Just not enough effort. I'd open a store near the beach too if I were following my emotions. Not if I were a businessman.

Niall

But Alessandro, Metropolis Books *is* in downtown LA and doing very well. KULTURAs is failing in Santa Monica, not dowtown.

Of the two locations, downtown is definitely superior, because of the high volume of foot traffic (and therefore dropins) during the week. Can't say the same for Ocean Park Blvd.

Sandra

I loved KULTURA.... The atmosphere was tranquil and the owners were friendly and helpful. Harmonious music from around the globe would fill the air. As I searched through the array of books, I would lose myself forgetting the hustle and bustle that was right outside the doors. They had rare finds and I enjoyed searching for a new treasure to take home and claim as my own. I bought numerous first editions to add to my home library. There is no other book store such as KULTURA here in the greater Los Angeles area.

Andrew Mac Donald

Dear Elegant Variation(Mark) and all readers/Commentators,thanks for all the comments both negative and positive. I enjoyed the hell out of living and selling books in LA. And there are plans in the works to return (sooner than later). Mark I'm sorry not to have met you as we lived up in the Palisades as well...maybe on the next incarnation. We are back up and running in DC but missing the sea air, my surf breaks, and the texture that is only LA. cheers to all for the new year. Andrew @ Kulturas

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TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."