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Glendale shop awash in famous fans

November 29, 2013|By Agnessa Kasumyan

Ray Bradbury’s famed 1953 novel “Fahrenheit 451,” which tells of a dystopian future where books are banned, serves as a warning for many of the evils of censorship as well as the perils of overreliance on technology.

Perhaps that’s why the author of hundreds of short stories and nearly 50 books did his part to help bookstores survive, including Bookfellows/Mystery and Imagination on Brand Boulevard.

Owner Christine Bell said Bradbury appeared at 25 book signings at the shop during a 14-year period. When he read about small businesses having trouble staying open, he phoned Christine and her husband, Malcolm, offering to hold signing events.

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“When Ray Bradbury is a friend of somebody, he is always a friend of somebody,” Christine Bell said.

For 12 years, up until his death in 2012, Bradbury celebrated his birthday at the shop, with Bell dancing on the countertops in his honor.

“He’d laugh because when I asked him what he wanted [for his birthday], and he’d say ‘dancing girls, I want dancing girls,’” she said. “He’s part of the fabric of the store and so are many, many other writers and writers’ workshops.”

With the number of book buyers declining, the Bells say their biggest challenge today is just keeping their doors open, rather than just do mail order. But, she says, she and her husband are survivors.

“We’ve always been able to go to mail order and make more money,” she said. “However, we have an open bookshop because we believe in bookshops. Bookshops help keep books alive. They help keep people reading. They help keep the writing arts alive.”

Bradbury is not the only celebrity to pitch in over the years. Academy Award-nominated director Guillermo del Toro recently appeared at a book-signing event in July.

“He’s very generous and wants to keep our bookshop open,” Christine Bell said. “He heard we were having a difficult time and he offered. He was too busy to do it, but he did it, anyway. He did it with no sleep [and] he did it at a great sacrifice to keep our book shop alive.”

As another sales strategy, the couple goes through thousands of books looking for a first edition in good condition to add to their collection.

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