Do you have a Vroman’s story?


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Vroman’s Bookstore was founded more than 100 years ago and remains, to this day, one of the signature bookstores of Los Angeles -- or, technically, the Greater Los Angeles area. Vroman’s is in the nearby town of Pasadena, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

As part of that celebration, Vroman’s is asking its customers to tell their Vroman’s story, via video. Vroman’s is giving away a $400 gift basket full of Pasadena goodies -- including books, of course -- to its favorite Vroman’s story video.


The videos don’t have to be fancy -- the few examples they have from their staff are simply people talking to the camera. The only catch is that the deadline for submission is Friday, July 1.

The story of Vroman’s goes something like this: Adam Clark Vroman founded his namesake bookstore in Pasadena, a few blocks from its current location, in November 1894. Like many early immigrants to Southern California, he’d come west for health reasons (his wife’s health); two years after their arrival, she died. Then the 38-year-old Vroman sold his personal book collection to raise the money to start his bookstore, which also sold photographic supplies.

Vroman was an avid amateur photographer; in the late 1890s and early 1900s, he traveled through California, Arizona and New Mexico, often in the company of his friend Charles Fletcher Lummis. Although he didn’t sell his photographs commercially, he went on two assignments for the Bureau of American Ethnology, a research unit of the Smithsonian Institution. He was not well-known at the time, but his photographs have become collectible.

After Vroman’s bookstore got on its feet and became profitable, Vroman built a new personal book collection, which after his death was donated to the Pasadena library.

Vroman’s Bookstore has survived many changes since its founding in 1894; its success in recent years led Publishers Weekly to give name it the Bookseller of the Year in 2008.

If you have a Vroman’s story, submit your video (or a link) by email to and use the subject line, Happy birthday, Pasadena!


-- Carolyn Kellogg