Boorstin, Daniel J. The Americans: The Democratic Experience. New York: Random House, 1973. Boorstin's novel conceptualizations of different American 'communities' contributed to this work through Boorstin's careful accounting of the rise of advertising, departments stores, and mail-order retail businesses.
Hall, Ben. The Best Remaining Seats: The Story of the Golden Age of the Movie Palace. New York: Clarson N. Potter, 1961. Hall's work is still the standard by which all histories of the movie palace are judged. Although Hall concentrates primarily on the career of Samuel "Roxy" Rothapfel and the theaters he managed, his exhaustive descriptions, deftly written, of stage shows and theater ornamentation does incorporate many of the most famous Midwest and West Coast palaces.
Herzog, Charlotte. "The Movie Palace and the Theatrical Sources of its Architectural Style," Cinema Journal, Spring 1981: 15-37. Herzog traces the architectural elements of movie palaces to film's theatrical antecedents, namely circuses, vaudeville, and arcades.
Kaufmann, Preston J. Fox...Story of the World's Finest Theatre. Pasadena, California: Showcase Publications, 1979. Kaufmann offers this work as a corrective to earlier, less favorable accounts of William Fox's career, and as a record of the San Francisco Fox for area residents following the theater's demolition. Kaufman provides rich detail about this theater and by following Fox's career, readers gain understanding about effects of the Depression, especially, on the film industry.
Leach, William. Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture. New York: Pantheon, 1993. Leach's book is an impressive study of the department store's contribution to commercial culture in America. He is careful to contextualize department stores within the religious, corporate, and governmental framework of the age.
Margolies, John and Emily Gwathmey. Ticket to Paradise: American Movie Theaters and How We Had Fun. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991. This work is targeted towards the general reading public, but it does offer scholars access to wonderful photographs of movie palaces around the country, particularly those in more remote locales which are often missed by 'heavier' treatments. Margolies and Gwathmey have also collected reminiscences from celebrities and average citizens about their movie palace experiences. A great introduction to American picture palaces.
Naylor, David. American Picture Palaces: The Architecture of Fantasy. New York: Prentice Hall Editions, 1981. Naylor's work is focused on preservation of old movie palaces and leans towards sometimes-nostalgic description, but the photography and Naylor's command of architectural vocabulary enrich the reader's understanding of American movie palaces.
Orvell, Miles. The Real Thing: Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture, 1880-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. Although Orvell doesn't have much to say about movie theaters, he provides thoughtful analysis about early film, most notably documentaries, and about the larger social milieu of the time. His comments about photography, facsimile and design were invaluable in preparing this work.
Trachtenberg, Allen. The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982. Trachtenberg's chronicle of industrialization and urbanization in America doesn't discuss movie theaters specifically, but it provides important information about creation of consumer society and the other downtown "people's palaces" of the era.
Valentine, Maggie. The Show Starts on the Sidewalk: An Architectural History of the Movie Theater, Starring S. Charles Lee. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994. Valentine's work is especially helpful for the study of later (Art Deco/Streamline Moderne) movie palaces, particularly those on the West Coast. Her comments about the impact of the automobile are insightful, and she provides a good summary about the movies' earliest years (especially the debt owed to vaudeville). She provides much information on theater architect S. Charles Lee which is woven (not always successfully) through the architectural commentary.