After 70 years of business, Samuel French will close its Sunset Boulevard bookstore in Los Angeles on March 31. The global publisher and licensor of plays and musicals has been forced to shut the store due to declining sales in the face of growing e-commerce.
Over 80 percent of Samuel French’s retail sales are now made online. While previously the company had bookstores in New York City, London, Boston (Baker’s Plays), Toronto, Hollywood and Studio City, California, only the soon-to-close Los Angeles and London outposts are currently in operation. The bookshop in London’s Royal Court Theatre will celebrate its first anniversary in March.
Samuel French opened its first California bookstore in downtown L.A. in 1929 and moved into the Sunset Boulevard building in 1947. The smaller Studio City bookshop located on Ventura Boulevard operated from 1986 until its closing in 2012.
“Although the community loves the store and its exceptional staff, most people are choosing to buy their books from e-retailers these days,” said Samuel French President Nathan Collins. “It is an unfortunate situation, in which many other bookshops find themselves. However, the good news is that Samuel French continues to serve the world online with an unparalleled range of shows to license and scripts to purchase. This is supported by our expert staff in New York, London, and L.A. and their outstanding service to our customers. Additionally, we are excited to continue exploring new ways to support the playwriting community in the digital age.”
Samuel French will be donating scripts and other materials from the closure to local libraries, theatres and educational institutions. “It’s one small way for us to give back to the community,” said Collins. “The book store has been a beloved landmark for decades and we are extremely grateful to our dedicated staff and loyal customers who have run and supported it for so many years.”