This month we continue our spotlight on Indie Bookstores, venturing to the iconic Small World Books, located on the boardwalk in renowned Venice Beach, California. Small World has been big supporter of independent presses like Three Rooms Press for 52 years, in addition to carrying a full line of best sellers and a deep selection of mystery titles. We recently spoke to owner Mary Goodfader and manager Adam Lipman about Small World’s long history, overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, and future plans.
3RP: Tell us a little about the 50+ year history of Small World Books.
SWB: Small World Books opened in Marina del Rey in 1969.When our lease was up, we searched for a new location. My husband saw the empty warehouse on the boardwalk and thought it would be fun to open a small restaurant alongside the bookstore. Timing was good with the introduction of rollerskating and roller-disco on the beach. Vendors brought their artistic creations. And the chainsaw juggler was just one of the many performers.
3RP: What kinds of books do you specialize in?
SWB: We are a general bookstore, meaning that we try to have a wide selection of subjects, with an in-depth backlist – one or two copies of many titles. Fiction is our strongest section, but we do have a wide selection of poetry, history, philosophy and children’s literature.
3RP: The pandemic: What did you do to survive? What steps are you taking to get back to “normal”?
SWB: We closed March 17th. UPS dropped deliveries at my home. We came into the bookstore to answer phone calls and shelve books. We delivered books to people’s homes. We were at the post office daily. And we got a bit of help through the government’s PPP aid.
3RP: What’s been the most exciting thing to happen for Small World Books recently?
SWB: The gratitude the customers have shown with the reopening of the store. The backlash against amazon – customers preferring to browse the shelves and discover new titles and subjects.
3RP: Besides the pandemic, what kinds of challenges have you been facing lately?
SWB: I think we are just in the mindset of getting out of the pandemic and readying ourselves for any adjustments we need to make going forward. We are looking to hire and at some point, if all things go smoothly, hosting events again.
3RP: What are the things that set Small World Books apart from other L.A. bookstores?
SWB: Venice is an unique community with such a diverse population. We cater to those varying interests….
3RP: How would you describe the Small World Books community?
SWB: A wild and loyal patchwork of artists, writers, entertainment folk that have an undying curiosity in what is being written
3RP: Any change coming in the near future?
SWB: Nope, same pattern as always – offering great literature and providing GREAT customer service
3RP What can people do to get involved and support Small World Books?
SWB: People can keep coming in, buying books from us and keep on telling us about the books they are excited about and love. This has always helped us keep the store well stocked and vibrant.
Small World Books is located at 1407 Ocean Front Walk (right on the boardwalk!), Venice, CA. Phone; 310.399.2360; website: https://smallworldbooks.com. No matter where you live, you can order books directly from them via Bookshop. And remember that you can easily order books from your favorite local independent bookstore via indiebound.org