Chris Giaco opened this gem of a bookstore just a little over two years ago, after stints at the Borders Bookstore at the Los Altos shopping center and In Retrospect on 4th St. He was at loose ends after In Retrospect shut its doors, but recalled how much he enjoyed doing Page Against the Machine as a pop-up there. He came to see that a permanent incarnation of the store was his next move. He weathered some shaky times in the beginning, with his end of 4th of St not yet having come into its own with the popular businesses it now has. But he kept the faith, and actually did all right during Covid times because he could stay open and still get foot traffic, unlike many of the other food-based business nearby.
Chris had always planned on showing art and having events in the store, installing track lighting and reserving precious wall space that could’ve gone to more shelves for stock. I’d become a regular by the winter of 2020, and some random afternoon chitchat led to us to serendipitously deciding to collaborate on a Small Works Show at the store, featuring 20+ Art Clout artists.
Chris is interested in having art shows that reflect his (and thus the store’s) progressive and community-minded ethos, whether it’s an exhibit called Poets, Protesters and Panthers featuring photographs from the 1960s by Jim Coke, or a show featuring all local Long Beach artists like our Small Works Show this past winter. He aims to educate, enrich and inspire with the store’s offerings.
The store’s manifesto says it all:
“Fightin’ words for mass defiance, empowerment, and self-reliance!
Page Against The Machine is a fiercely independent, proudly progressive activist bookstore based in Long Beach, California. We offer a hyper-curated selection of books and related material on activism and organizing, social and political movements, and socially-conscious living and sustainability. We also host a wide variety of discussion groups, readings, and exhibits that seek to inspire, agitate, and provoke in order to facilitate creative solutions to battle against injustice, intolerance, and inequality in all their insidious forms.”
Considering that we can probably count on one hand all the independent book stores in Long Beach, we need to cherish and support businesses like Page Against the Machine. In addition to his very carefully curated stock, Chris can order just about any book. I used to buy all my books at chain stores or Amazon, but I’ve been ordering through PATM on the occasions that I want a physical book. I don’t mind paying a little extra to support a great local business. I love being part of the solution!
PATM also offers a great selection of zines from all over, but I’m particularly enamored with those from local Long Beach artist Brehana (@brattybre_). You should definitely check out her stuff.
There are also sidewalk sales from time to time, which is a great way to find some hidden gems! The latest one will be this weekend for the 4th of July. Happy reading!