Photographing Leimert Park: Eso Won Books

Eso Won Books
Eso Won Books 

Youth Voices student producers are taking part in a four-day intensive media literacy program exploring and documenting the many stories of Leimert Park using digital media. Anbiya Smith chose to apply the tips and skills from the photo workshop to photograph creative spaces that inform and inspire her and the community.

We walked into Eso Won Books with the sole intention of introducing ourselves and the Departures Youth Voices Leimert Park project to the owners. Instead we found ourselves enveloped in the stories and images resplendent throughout the shop. Youth Voices student producer Anbiya immediately began to take photographs as we spoke to co-owner James Fugate.

James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won Books
James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won Books

The photos Anbiya took capture the welcoming nature of Eso Won books as well as the prodigious amount of content available -- fiction and non-fiction books, music, art, children's literature and much more. On their website Eso Won is defined as "water over rocks," which owners Mr. Fugate and Thomas Hamilton effectively extend to reflect the mission of the bookstore, "as it provides fluid, safe, stirring opportunities that flow to a reservoir of knowledge for all people to experience."


As we spoke, Mr. Fugate shared some of the history of the bookstore -- their move to Leimert park in 2006, the many famous authors who have visited the shop, including then Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama, Connie Rice, Isabel Wilkerson -- as well as the challenges they have faced as a small business in Leimert Park. The economic downturn and recent changes in local ownership have caused serious concern in the neighborhood business community. The recently announced Leimert Park station, part of the Metro Crenshaw Line, offers the possibility of increased foot traffic. A possibility Mr. Fugate seems happy to accept as he looks to the future of Eso Won Books and Leimert Park.


Eso Won Books is well known for their book signings. Recently they have hosted recording artist and radio personality Keith Sweat, renowned author Walter Mosely, and urban farmer and recipient of the McArthur Foundation Genius Grant, Will Allen. Click HERE to view their upcoming events.

Eso Won Books on Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park

  • Anbiya Smith
    Anbiya is entering her junior year at Cleveland High School in Reseda. She has been involved in performance and fine art activities in Leimert Park most of her life. For her Youth Voices project she chose to explore locations that have important history and art that the wider public should be aware of.

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