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‘Eccentric’ Owner of Other Times Books to Hang it Up

The LA Times’ Scott Timberg profiles Andrew Dowdy, the longtime owner of LA-based bookshop Other Times Books who has decided to retire. But not for the usual reasons: he could make his rent, and he wasn’t worried about big box store competition or the Internet. Instead, a recent diabetic coma forced him to realize that it was time to get out of the business – making Other Times, a beloved if somewhat obscure used bookstore on a not-yet gentrified stretch of Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles, would become a thing of the past. In a sense, as its name implied, it always was.

“It’s sort of a ’60s ideal,” said Dowdy, standing in front of his locked store last month while a friend retrieved the key, to Timberg. “The eccentric, single-owned used bookstore … they’re dropping like flies.” What makes the passing of Other Times noteworthy, Timberg continues, is the store and its stock – heavy on film books but with a lot of literary fiction and old New Yorker writers – which is being sold to Powell’s in Portland, Ore., over the next week or so. It was certainly not the space itself, that kind of classic used bookstore with fluorescent lights, a perpetually broken bathroom and several different types of flooring, all of them dirty. Still, Other Times was a kind of secret spot for L.A. literati.

“I don’t know if I can recall another shop where I truly thought things were priced reasonably all the time,” said magician, actor and book collector Ricky Jay, who found tomes on early 20th century mining stock swindles in Nevada and male impersonators in battle. “He had a very good knowledge of circuses, carnivals and striptease, all fields I have a real interest in.”

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