Sherry Gottlieb needed a job in 1972, so she opened Change of Hobbit Bookstore and hired herself. One of the first specialty science fiction bookstores this side of London occupied a tiny space over a laundromat in the Westwood section of Los Angeles and it was immediately adopted by the city’s science fiction writers. Now Sherry is writing the history of her store and the community that grew around it. The first installment has been posted online, with photos:
The store’s location on the mezzanine of a laundromat, with no sign on the outside of the building, was even more of a problem. People used to telephone me from the payphone in the laundromat downstairs and say, “I’m at 1101 Gayley. Where are you?” And I’d reply, “Look up.”
Change of Hobbit was often on the razor’s edge of survival in its early days. Most small businesses fail within five years. But most small businesses did not have Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon and a posse of science fiction writers working to keep them afloat. Sherry’s vivid account of the October 14, 1973 benefit at the studios of Pacifica radio station KPFK recalls one of the great days in local LA science fiction history.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]