Video Story Problem – The Last Bookstore

If you ever find yourself in downtown Los Angeles, you owe it to yourself to visit The Last Bookstore. It’s an amazing space filled with a labyrinth of books housed in an old bank building; the kind with the big metal vault doors, high ceilings, and a mezzanine high above the main lobby of what used to be the first floor bank tellers. The columns and art deco architecture fit perfectly with the quirky, sprawling shelves of new, used, and prized books.

Time Enough at Last
“All the books I need, all the books I’ll ever want” – Henry Bemis

It’s a book-lover’s fantasy come to life. In short, it’s the kind of place that Henry Bemis from the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last” would be at peace within. With all of those books, how could I resist creating a video story problem with one of the most iconic features of The Last Bookstore; their book arch!

I really wanted to focus on two important parts of this particular problem; improvisation and estimating/guesstimating. Too often students will try to perfectly solve a math problem (thanks in part to drill and kill worksheets and online tools used in many schools that seek exact answers) rather than just provide a rough estimation. Which is a shame, as estimation is a method that they will likely encounter in the real world quite often for everyday use. How much money do you need to order pizza? It’s going to cost $9.99 a pie, and we want two, so $20 should do it. You want to purchase a new video game? It’s $59.99, but there’s tax, so make sure you have $65. Improvising measurements with my forearm helps make it even less likely that a completely accurate answer is given, as students are using a non-standard form of measurement.

Special thanks to The Last Bookstore for letting me shoot video there, and for the makers of Lice Cap for creating the animated GIF of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.