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Arcana: Books On the Arts

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1229 3rd Street Promenade Los Angeles, CA 90401 310-458-1499
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Best Coffee-Table Books, March 2004

If we’re after a coffee-table book for the delights of conspicuous consumption, we’ll go to the avowedly chic Taschen bookstore on Beverly Drive, where it’s easy to spend hundreds on a single tome. But if self-indulgence isn’t the aim, and it’s something rare or commonplace we want, from a slender spiral-bound volume on interior designer Paul Laszlo to a David Plowden photo-essay, then it’s off to Arcana: Books On the Arts in Santa Monica. The narrow space houses owner Lee Kaplan’s obsessively well-organized assemblage of 100,000 titles, many of which are in the back room, out of sight but not entirely out of reach. The store, which has been on the 3rd Street Promenade for 18 years, is like a catalogue raisonné of modern art, architecture, photography, design, fashion, and film. Here’s where we find Huntington Beach skateboard legend Ed Templeton’s photo-meditations on wasted youth near the machine fantasies of futurist architect Antonio Sant’ Elia and much, much more.

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