I was lucky to meet the owner Natalie Compagno at a recent invite-only charity ‘salon’ event that she hosts all over the city at unique venues with special guests. These modern day literary salons revolve around a theme. The thought provoking intimate events she hosts are called Oscar and Mae. We happened to meet at her salon boxing ring event listening to Boom Boom Mancini and the entertainment world of actors, writers, and producers read fascinating passages.
Natalie Compagno was kind enough to answer some of our LaLaScoop questions.
Q: How long has your book store been open?
A: Since 1991, I bought it in 2007.
Q: Are you from LA?
A: I am from Northern California, Berkeley area. El Cerrito. I went to USC which brought me down here the first time. I lived in NYC for years then came back.
Q: What makes shopping on W. Third St. a great spot for a travel book store?
A: Third Street is THE hot shopping and nightlife street in LA, other than Abbott Kinney. There are very few chain stores here and people can enjoy a variety of experiences from ice cream to cocktails, fine dining to obscure gift shops. Being in between BH (Beverly Hills) and WeHo (West Hollywood) makes this street very intellectual and upscale. People appreciate indie shops and books!
Q: Why would someone come to your store? What would someone find that they might not be able to find somewhere else?
A: We have obscure and imported guide books from around the world. I have been to over 75 countries and my staff is very knowledgeable about travel and vacation spots. This is a community where people come together to learn and share travel stories.
Q: Do you think people still enjoy book stores or shopping versus online shopping? Is there a market still for it?
A: I think so. Books will always be a source of art and joy that electronic devices can’t duplicate. Also, we are a specialty store so people know to come here for unique and curated items. You can’t get this kind of variety online or get the advice we give.
Q: Is there an all time best seller travel book in your store? What are some of the best selling books this year?
A: Some of my favorites are : “Where Chefs Eat”, “The Well-Traveled Home,” “Art Cities of the Future,” “Map of Lost Memories” and any Wallpaper, Luxe or Time Out Guides.
Q: What is your favorite travel book or publisher/series?
A: They all serve different purposes and are wonderful for different reasons. I like the Above guides, Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, DK and Moon.
Q: Have you had any special guests? Where can people find out about your events?
A: The best way to find out about our events is to sign up for our email newsletter and become a Traveler’s Bookcase fan on facebook. We also post our events online. We have had many guests: William Dalrymple, Arianna Huffington, Gaby Calvocoressi, Reza Aslan, Eric Hiss, Kim Fay, Cara Black, Michele Bigley.
Q: What do you like the most about LA?
A: I love that LA is really on the verge right now. This city is coming into its own and while other cities are losing their charm we are becoming more and more interesting. Art, food, theater, culture, our political slant, the new mayor, it’s all exciting to me. I love the different neighborhoods and that we have more ethnic food than any other city. This is a city of opportunity now, where people can reinvent themselves and participate in whatever fancies them. This is a city of entrepreneurs and dreamers. I love it.
Q: What is your favorite LA workout spot?
A: Swerve Studio on 3rd St
Q: What is your favorite LA restaurant?
A: Street, AOC, Haru Sushi
Q: What is your favorite secret LA spot?
A: Geffen theater patio sipping wine by the fountain before a show (not so secret?) or Eric at Taboo Hair for blow outs before an event- He is amazing. Also, Roseark Jewelry and Art Gallery – Kathy has amazing taste and wonderful events. Her space is magical.
Q: What is your favorite chill place in LA?
A: LACMA lawn for picnics
Q: What is your favorite LA spa?
A: Crystal Spa Korea Town
Q: What is your favorite LA brunch spot?
A: LA needs a good one. I love Real Food Daily or Waffle
Q: What is a great date spot or evening out with friends in LA?
Date spot: Rays Stark Bar at sundown, AOC, Little Next Door
With friends: Art Walks, Geffen Theater, Churchills, El Carmen, any Oscar and Mae event
Q: If you could host a dinner party for 8, who would you invite living or dead?
A: Patti Smith, Madonna, Hilary Clinton, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, Steve McQueen, Churchill and MLK
Q: What is your favorite vacation spot?
A: Wherever I just returned from. Some highlights: Santa Barbara, Iceland, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Paris, Beirut.
Q: What is your favorite TV show?
A: I don’t really watch TV although I got hooked on Downton Abby.
Q: What is your favorite book?
Impossible. I loved recently- “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”, “Sense of an Ending”, “The Round House”
Q: Do you support any charities?
Many. All Oscar and Mae events support charities of different types. I do prefer local charities though.
To gain the full bookstore experience, head to 8375 W. Third Street, LA, CA 90048
Visit Traveler’s Bookcase online HERE.