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Laura Eversz
Edition: 10/3/2008

DESPITE moving to an appointment-only schedule, owner Michael Dawson says he's as busy as ever at his book shop and gallery on N. Larchmont Blvd.

Boulevard fixture is area's oldest antiquarian book-seller

Citing the economy as well as the internet’s effect on out-of-print bookshops, Dawson’s Book Shop owner Michael Dawson has moved to an appointment-only schedule at his 535 N. Larchmont Blvd. store and gallery.

A fixture on the north end of the boulevard since 1968, Dawson’s is the oldest antiquarian book-seller in Southern California, specializing in books on California and Western Americana history and photography.

Ernest Dawson opened the shop on Grand Ave. in 1905. After three moves downtown and passing on to the second generation of Glen and Muir Dawson, the shop settled on Larchmont Blvd.“My mom had shopped here since the 1950s and she was the one who said ‘let’s move to Larchmont,’” recalled Muir’s son, Michael, who took over the business in 1995.

A collector of books like his father, Michael, also a photographer, expanded the business to include photography, and later opened an art gallery within the shop.

In an e-mail this summer to friends and colleagues, Dawson told of his decision to go to an appointment-only schedule at the shop that has for decades been open regular business hours. “This is a change I’ve been thinking about for some time, and I am excited about the possibilities it offers for myself and for the business,” Dawson wrote.

Dawson plans to continue to buy rare books of California history and photography, as well as books from as far back as the 15th century. “And I’m still actively buying vintage European and American photographs and attending professional trade shows.

“It’s sort of a cliché phrase, but I’m really looking to work smaller,” he said. “I do a lot of internet and phone business, and I have a growing business in appraisal work. It was just that the in-store retail business for books hasn’t been there for a long time.” That, along with the general slowdown in the economy, convinced Dawson “it was time to reorganize and refocus and see where it ends up.”

Still, he’s as busy as ever. “I’m here by appointment most days of the week. Almost all of my inventory is on the website, which I’m working to improve.” He also plans to continue to represent a small group of artists and curate exhibits.

Dawson insists he has no intention of moving. “My father’s heart and soul are in this building. I have an emotional attachment to it, and I’m not going to walk away. I plan to have a presence in the community for years to come."

It took him a long time to make the decision. “But I was just getting tired. And I’m old enough to be tired, but too young to be retired,” Dawson said with a laugh.

Michael Dawson Gallery/Dawson’s Book Shop, 535 N. Larchmont Blvd.,, 323-469-2186.