Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Book Lover's Lament

This morning I stopped by Pioneer Book where I loaded up on four art/photography books, a DVD about Henry J. Eyring, and a set of old radio mysteries on CD to listen to in my car. Outside the store, several local authors had booths and were selling their wares and meeting fans, so I picked up another book from an author I know, Tristi Pinkston.

This past month I have had my car in for repairs twice, so I did experience a moment of guilt as I stared at my bulging book bag. But I had calculated the cost in my head, and I have stew and salmon patties in my freezer at home, so I’ll still be able to eat until pay day.

I love books.

Then I went to a new bookstore where I bought a copy of a new book that a friend of mine has illustrated

…and I bought one more book that caught my eye.

Even now, I’m sitting at the Barnes & Noble café, typing out this entry.

I have a sickness, people!

This is not a cry for help. (I can stop any time I want.) It is a cry to arms! Our bookstores are failing! The news of Borders bankruptcy caused me to drop my head into my hands and groan, “Oh, how are the mighty fallen.” Then I promptly went to pick the carcass by loading up on three of the discounted paperbacks from my favorite mystery series.

Now I admit to being a part of the problem. Larger booksellers like B&N and Borders are faltering, in part, because of online bookstores and the fact that retailers like Walmart and Costco order NY bestsellers by the boatload and sell them cheaply. Yes, I love that I can find obscure books on Amazon. And I bought “The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society” at Costco (where, incidentally, I also got an excellent herbed cheddar).

But the cruelest blow of all happened in Kansas City, KS (my home away from home). The “I Love a Mystery” bookstore is closing its doors! Aack! My favorite genre!

This time, it’s personal.





I realize that I usually feature Utah-based businesses. But today, I’d like to use the entry to lovingly eulogize one of my favorite retreats.

The “I Love a Mystery” bookstore specialized in…mystery. The interior of the bookstore looked like it could have been the library in which Colonel Mustard was caught with a lead pipe. Mystery “artifacts” were scattered throughout the store: a deerstalker’s cap, a calabash pipe, a dagger, or a skull. The store sold both new and used, every author of note. (And some not.) There were chairs for sitting and a tea cart.

You can find any mystery author of note there. I first discovered “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series at “I Love a Mystery.” Last year, I did Christmas shopping there. Every year, my book club has Christmas party and we each bring a favorite used book to gift—white elephant style. In anticipation of the event, I went to “I Love a Mystery,” to get the first books in two of my favorite series: the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series by Anne Perry and the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.

Although I’m only in Kansas City about once a year, I’m on the email list for “I Love a Mystery.” That’s how I got the devastating news. So, I’ve put on my black arm band and had my moment of silence.

And so I finish my eulogy with these words: 40 % off all new titles, 50% off all used titles, vintage and signed editions brought out daily. Everything must go.


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