A Change of Hobbit (1972-1991) was one of the first science fiction, fantasy and horror bookstores established, and was a significant part of science fiction fandom generally and in Southern California particularly.
The name references the hobbits from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Owner Sherry Gottlieb offered the use of her name to colleagues in Berkeley, who then established The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore in 1974; that store continues to operate in the Bay Area.
The Change of Hobbit bookstore hosted numerous events, including, famously, Harlan Ellison in its front window, writing a story in public view, over the course of a week. The store was also a mainstay on author tours, as Anne Rice noted: “Authors around the world have dreamed of going to the Hobbit for signings. What’s a West Coast tour if you can’t visit Sherry?” The store was also notable for Gottlieb’s pet boa constrictor, “Wrinklesnakeskin”.
Gottlieb first opened the store in Westwood, moved it to Westwood Boulevard, and then to Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica. In 1989, Gottlieb moved the store to its final location on 2nd Street in Santa Monica.