Annabelle’s Book Club in Studio City Hopes to Attract the YA Readers
Bookish & proud!
Written byAnna Ephron Harari
Photographed byStephanie Girard
With her new bookstore along the busiest stretch of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, Annabelle Chang aims to change the perception that young adult (YA) books are just for teenagers.
“I think the literary community has historically undervalued the power of young adult stories, but I think we are at a moment where that is changing. More than half of the customers in my store buying YA literature are adults. I think there was a perception that YA books are just fun reads, but there is now a realization that they often tackle difficult and serious issues,” Annabelle says.
The store seems perfectly positioned, particularly for a younger clientele. Its bright pink facade is nestled between Bluestone Coffee and the ice cream shop Salt & Straw.
“I can’t believe how lucky I am with this location,” says Annabelle. “I often came over here for shopping and to hang out. It’s a vibrant community.”
Annabelle’s origin story reads like a YA novel itself. She started Annabelle’s Book Club as a blog during the pandemic to give book recommendations to friends. She got such great feedback that last year she stocked a rolling cart at the LA Times Festival of Books and ran a pop-up shop for the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Festival of Books.
The success of those events convinced her there was demand for a YA shop, and she was able to get her parents on board. Annabelle’s mother, Amanda Brown, wrote the semiautobiographical novel Legally Blonde. Dad Justin Chang is a real estate investor.
Her attention to detail is evident throughout the 1,400-square-foot store, from the cozy, draped reading nook to the eye-catching window displays. From the sidewalk, through the window, pedestrians can see what she calls the “book dress,” a Victorian-style garment made out of book jackets. She commissioned the work from artist Rob Younkers, and hand-selected each book to be featured.
Strolling around the store, one gets the impression that Annabelle’s Book Club also aspires to be a lifestyle brand. In addition to some 2,500 titles, the store has a couple racks of merchandise. A T-shirt with a Roy Lichtenstein-style design reads “Sob, does he even read?” Hoodies spell out “Zodiac Book Tropes,” and silk blazers feature book covers designed by the high-end digital fashion brand Tribute Project.
Annabelle’s can-do attitude runs in the family. She is one of four sisters, and has an identical twin. Her eldest sister runs the popular blog The Zeitgeist.
She cites “connecting with authors and fellow book lovers through events” as one of the most rewarding aspects of having a store.
“Authors have always been my personal heroes, and it has been amazing to host signings and discussions for some of my all-time favorite writers. I love having the opportunity to meet people who are as passionate about reading as I am,” she says.
ANNABELLE’S FAVORITE YA NOVELS TEND TO FEATURE TEENAGERS FINDING THEMSELVES
THROUGH THEIR PASSIONS. HERE ARE SOME CURRENT FAVES.
The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
I am a huge fan of Holly Black’s books, so when I read that The Stolen Heir was coming out, I was so excited. Set in the same captivating universe as Black’s best-selling Folk of the Air series, The Stolen Heir is filled with intrigue, betrayal and magic that is sure to enchant readers and exceed the expectations of Holly Black fans.
They’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso
If you love boarding school mysteries and secret societies as much as I do, then They’re Watching You must be your next read. The book follows Maren, a student at the prestigious Torrey-Wells Academy, as she sets out to solve her best friend’s disappearance. Maren is determined to find the truth, even if it means joining the school’s most infamous—and deadly—secret society.
French Kissing in New York by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
From the best-selling author of Kisses and Croissants comes a charming rom-com about a young French chef navigating life and love in New York City. A love letter to teenage romance, the magic of New York, and finding yourself, French Kissing in New York is a fun read perfect for hopeless romantics and anyone who loves dessert.
Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson
I was so excited when Nine Liars came out this past December, because Truly Devious, which follows teenager Stevie Bell as she solves mysteries at her prestigious boarding school, is one of my all-time favorite series. In this captivating sequel, mystery follows Stevie and her friends to London, where they must solve a double-murder cold case before the killer strikes again.
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
This hilarious rom-com follows Brad and Celine, ex-best friends who are forced to work together when they both sign up for a wilderness survival course. Heartfelt and unique, readers will fall in love with this laugh-out-loud story and its compelling characters.
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