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Interview with SEITE BOOKS ~ East Los Angeles

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SEITE is a highly curated bookstore located within the owners' mother's beauty & snack shop in East Los Angeles near East Los Angeles College. The shop's owners, Denice and Adam, are hyper literate zine-heads and the tiny shop is stocked with new and used rare gems with an extra healthy smattering of Spanish-language texts, people of color centric zines and mega hard-to-find East Los printed matter. SEITE also organizes the annual EASTSIDE ZINE MARKET which was inaugurated last year...
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What inspired you to start SEITE? How did this all come about?

We were very lucky to have been offered a small space within a shop a family member was renting. We went through a couple ideas about what to do with it and quickly settled upon book selling because of personal interest and the complete lack of bookshops east of the river. When we began selling books at the shop there wasn't a single bookshop between Downtown Los Angeles and Whittier or between Pasadena and Long Beach.  We picked up a bookshelf and began to fill it with books and the shop has continued to slowly grow the past few years.

How did each of you slip into the zine scene?

Adam: Making zines was something I had done before we started the shop. I traded photo and art zines with friends by mail and I had regularly gone to shops like Quimby's that carried tons of zines and independent comics in the past. We initially carried a few titles from friends of ours and as we went to more events and met more local zine makers the selection grew. Denice: Looking through zines in Quimby's mostly. We used to go there now and then while living in Chicago. Not long after I made a small zine full of random drawings I'd worked on the last couple of years.

IMG_1339What are you two reading right now?

Adam: A Kayak Full of Ghosts which is a collection of Eskimo folktales. Some are fables with clear lessons others are kind of funny stories you might tell over a fire, they all mostly read like oral stories passed along. Denice: I'm reading Shakespeare and Company by Sylvia Beach, a memoir about the English language book shop she opened in Paris that is well known for having hosted writers such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce.  It's interesting to read about her perspective on publishing, particularly since she chose to publish Joyce's Ulysses after it had been banned in the U.K. and the U.S. where parts of the work had appeared in serialized form.  I also just began The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz which discusses the effect Stalinism had on the output of Eastern European artists and writers of the time.

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The success of the shop lead to you throwing the EASTSIDE ZINE MARKET, can you tell me a little about that and whats on lock for the next one? 

We were approached by East LA Rep about helping to organize a small press event and that eventually turned in to the Eastside Zine Market. We both wanted to bring an accessible cultural event to the Eastside and zines are a great way to do that. It's a format that often blends art and writing and allows for an endless variety of ideas and tastes to be shared in an affordable manner.  Currently we're hoping to hold another Zine Market in July but a date has not been set, we do plan to make it a regular event  and updates can be followed at http://eastsidezinemarket.tumblr.com

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Self-publishing has been a tool of resistance and culture-building on the east side for decades (Regeneración (arguably both versions), Self Help Graphics, Teen Angels, graff zines, punk zines etc).. do you have some other choice picks from east side chicano heritage and can you tell us what's on the horizon?

Sal Si Puedes was probably the first local zine we came across, the journal of the Eastside from City Terrace. It has interviews with locals interspersed with quotes from Alice Bag to Bukowski, articles on Carson McCullers and trips to Colombia. It's difficult to say what's on the horizon, even with the seeming growth of events around zine making and self publishing in the shop we often have conversations with people wondering what zines are or marveling that people produce comics that aren't published by the major companies. We are hopeful our presence here the last few years has helped in some way to plant a few seeds. We've had people note that they read their writing in front of people for the first time at an event in the shop. We have a few kids just entering college that have been coming in for 3-4 years and tell us they're working on their writing, they're trying to produce their own novels.

IMG_1352What's Seite's #1 taco spotttt?????

We don't have to go far, just down Cesar Chavez there's a taco stand off of Alma Avenue, they have great al pastor. We also have a guy who stops by the shop with great tacos de canasta. He sells them all around East LA off his bike. Our favorite are chicken and potato or plain bean ones along with a mix of pickled red onions and cabbage.

SEITE BOOKS
419 N Rowan Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90063
(323) 526-1369

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