Arcana: A Treasure Trove of Books on the Arts

I don’t know about you, but I am a bookstore junkie.  I   just love the opportunity to wander around a good bookstore and walk out with one or two new books to read. That’s not to say I don’t subscribe to reading books on my Kindle or my iPad. But there is something extremely satisfying about

holding a new book in one’s hands and beginning the journey soon to be laid out by the author.  I mean, what is a home without REAL books and bookshelves…I just can’t imagine it.

So on my last trip to Los Angeles in June, with by grandkidz in tow, I uncovered a fabulous book store called  ARCANA, located in the equally fabulous re-invented art district of Culver City, in an equally fabulous old building called the historic Helms Bakery Building.  Sounds like a perfect trifecta, no?


ARCANA  specializes in rare and out off print books dealing with 20th Century Art, Architecture, Design, Photography, Fashion, Music  and related subjects. And when you walk in there you know this place is the real deal.  Interestingly enough, ARCANA functioned out of a quaint , tiny store in Santa Monica for umpteen years until moving to this perfect setting for their books. The new store is done up in a pleasant industrial style, with rows of  these precious books perched on black metal labeled shelves.


The founder, Lee Kaplan, calls his 4500 s/f space a “forest of books” and in some ways I have to agree with him,  as you definitely get that feeling as you walk through the towering shelves discovering hidden treasures. You also recognize the great amount of respect one has to give to the collection Kaplan has accrued over the years.  I was totally fascinated  as I read the book titles, and recognized the breadth and depth of the books sitting on the shelves.


With small and large book stores closing down left and right, and everything going the way of the digital world and the eBook, it is a breath of fresh air to enter ARCANA and wander through the archives of great 20th Century art and design books…and hard to resist not buying one of these valuable treasures! The good thing for those of you not living in Los Angeles is that you can go online to ARCANA’S website and search and order any book they have, or take advantage of their specials on certain books.  What could be easier?




EXTRA TIP: MUST STOP:  After you have finished strolling through ARACANA and perhaps an art gallery or two, stop in at COOLHAUS , located also on Washington Boulevard, but  on the other side of the block, for the best ever cookie ice cream sandwich imaginable!  My grandson, Elijah, gobbled his down in a heartbeat!