Sunday, January 16, 2011
The New Reality Claims an Old Friend
On January 31, one of the great independent bookstores in the country, Mystery Bookstore of L.A., will close its doors, yet another victim of the new economic and publishing realities.
It's almost inconceivable that the greatest noir city in the world is losing such a good friend to the mystery and suspense community.
I had the privilege of launching the first book of my Ty Buchanan series, Try Dying, at Mystery Bookstore. And was further honored to be on their list of authors signing books at the L.A. Times Festival each year (though if you want a lesson in humility, try signing at the same time as Mary Higgins Clark or Robert Crais).
Scores of authors owe a great debt to the longtime managers of the store, Bobby McCue and Linda Brown, and the fine staff who love books and hand-selling to customers. Top names made the store a must for their signings. I caught up with our own Michelle Gagnon there last year, and I've seen Deaver and Crais and Connelly and Jeff Parker and John Lescroart and a bunch of others at the store. The pre-Festival party for the Times event was always a highlight, the store stuffed with writers and readers and good cheer.
Virtually every reader of this blog, I'll wager, knows of a fine local bookstore that's closed. My son's favorite bookstore, The Little Old Bookshop in Whittier, announced its closing a couple of weeks ago.
It's the reality of hard economic times and the huge change in the publishing industry vis-à-vis e-books. There is no changing the facts. Like the era of the passenger train and the 10¢ donut, there may be small remnants and reminders of the past. But the day of the thriving independents is coming to a close.
The Mystery Bookstore will have a presence online, and that is where most used books will be sold now. What we'll miss is the ability to physically browse, hear from the staff what books they like, and that feeling of community good books can create.
So it's a melancholy time here in L.A. among writers. I got together with some friends in the local MWA chapter the other day, when the news hit. We were all cut to the heart.
I don't know what else to say. This is kind of a downer blog post, I guess. But I just had to mention the passing of an old friend.
Maybe tonight raise a glass to independent bookstores and the people who love them.