Andrew H. MacDonald and Irene M. Coray moved about 25,000 books from Washington, D.C. to the Sunset Park neighborhood of Santa Monica and opened KULTURAs Books earlier this year. Located on the corner of Ocean Park Boulevard and 17th Street (across 17th from Bob’s Market), the shop has the beginnings of a comfortable feel and the potential for becoming a real neighborhood presence.
In addition to “used, rare and out-of-print books,” the owners declare their stock to include “sort-of-vintage clothing, CDs, framed collectible jazz LPs, a well-edited array of Fotofolio postcards, as well as a large, very appropriate space for art on-the- wall.”
The store had what partner Coray calls “a casual opening” in January and has maintained its current hours since sometime in May; the published hours being 11 to 6, seven days a week, although MacDonald says it is generally 11 to 7 and somewhat later on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The space is roomy with a bit of a just-moved-in feel that will no doubt soften. There is casual seating for both adult- and child-sized browsers and wall space for art with room to spare. The sort-of-vintage clothing is displayed in the window and hung on racks toward the back – when asked about the connection between books and clothing, Coray explained that the partners visit estate sales to buy books, and the sales often offer clothing as well, so…they decided to continue the combination they had begun in D.C.
And there are books. Hardcover fiction from John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire to Paul Theroux’s Hotel Honolulu to Pauline Reage’s Story of O. Paperback fiction from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. Volumes of philosophy, poetry and reference; photography, film, art, music and architecture and design; Spanish, French and Italian literature; history and science; children’s; gardening, cooking and outdoors. If only it rained more often in Santa Monica, it would be a wonderful place to spend a rainy afternoon.
The prices are one-half the cover retail price or as marked. The prices seem fair – not bargain, but certainly fair. And that includes the goodly selection of first editions, from Iris Murdoch and Umberto Eco at $35, through John McPhee and Gunter Grass at $50, to Anais Nin at $75.
The KULTURAs partners say they are “delighted to be here and hope to be not only a cornerstone business in the Sunset Park neighborhood, but also become a vital addition to the book-loving communities in the greater Los Angeles Metro area.” You can drop by until 6:00, or maybe 7:00, or somewhat later on Tuesdays and Thursdays.