Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Morton.
Hi Lisa, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
The Iliad Bookshop was started in 1987 by Dan Weinstein. The Weinstein family-owned bookstores all over Southern California (including the famous Heritage Bookshop, specializing in very rare collectibles), so it made sense for Dan to follow that business path. When he opened the store on Vineland Ave. in North Hollywood, he lived in a loft above it, ran the store by himself, and built all the fixtures in his woodworking shop. In 2006, the store moved to its current location on Cahuenga Blvd. in North Hollywood (across from the Chandler bike path) and now boasts its own parking, two feisty cats (Zeus and Apollo), a knowledgeable staff, and around 150,000 books. Dan no longer lives in the store, but he still makes the fixtures and can usually be found working in the store.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The Iliad has suffered most of the same trials that most small businesses have: slowly building a clientele, surviving a move, and making it through the last year of Covid-19. Moving in 2006 was a particular gamble since the Iliad moved from a rented space to one it owns, which of course comes with a large mortgage; it took about a year for customers to find the store again, but a profile in the LA Times helped a great deal, and business was booming by 2008.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’ve worked at the Iliad for almost thirty years (I started here in November 1991); before that I’d worked at and managed new bookstores, including a Waldenbooks (remember them?) in the Westchester area. Bookselling is not the genteel vocation that most people imagine; it involves a great deal of physical labor (lifting boxes, climbing ladders), being on your feet for most of the day, dealing with the public, and – if you work in a used bookstore – being constantly exposed to dust and mold. But those of us who do it love the books and the customers, and that makes it worthwhile.
I have an extra reason for loving what I do: it dovetails perfectly with my other job, which is writing. Whether I’m working on fiction or non-fiction, I always have a ready source of reference materials (much of which still can’t be found easily on the internet) right at my fingertips (you can see more about my writing work at http://www.lisamorton.com).
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The pandemic really brought home just how extraordinary our customers are – we really are like one big extended family, and we were all so happy to re-connect after the months of lockdown.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://www.iliadbooks.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iliadbookshop/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IliadBookshop
All photos by Lisa Morton