Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brick and Mortar Bookstores

I received the news online yesterday that another local mystery bookstore is biting the dust: Book 'Em, in South Pasadena.  Its owners are seniors who want to enjoy their lives without the hassles of running a bookstore.  I understand, but I'm still awfully sorry to hear that.  I really, really like Book 'Em, and have been visiting there for years just before meetings of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters In Crime, which occur within walking distance.

I worry a lot about the fate of brick and mortar bookstores.  So many have closed recently, both large chains and small indies.  Every time I go into one that still exists I attempt to buy something, just to do my small part to help them remain viable--if that's possible.

Yes, I own a Kindle.  I buy from Amazon online as well as other sites.  Am I hypocritical?  I hope not.  I particularly love books I can hold in my hands.  I like to read their back covers and dedications and other information before I buy them--and yes, I realize that the websites of most sold online also have that information.  Plus, I'm in the process of making some of my own backlist available as ebooks. 

But I still love the ease of reading a real, live, hand-held book.  And I'm delighted that not all bookstores are gone.  I'll be signing at booths sponsored by two local bookstores at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books next month: Mystery Ink and Mysterious Galaxy.  I'm going to a friend's launch party for her first book tonight at the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffee House.  I visit my nearest bookstore, Bookstar in Studio City, as often as I can--it's part of Barnes & Noble.  I also stop in at other Barnes & Noble stores when I'm in their vicinity.  And a neighbor owns the Iliad Bookshop, with a great supply of used books--and, yes, I visit there, too.

I used to go to the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, every year in May after the Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland.  The Festival was sponsored by the Mystery Lovers Bookshop.  It worked out great because I was able to visit family in nearby Pittsburgh.  But there's no Festival this year... and my Pittsburgh family is dwindling anyway.  As far as I know, though, the Mystery Lovers Bookshop is doing well.  I receive its online newsletter and it's holding lots of signings.  I hope it's doing great!

So hang in there, all of you wonderful bookstores!  And Book 'Em?  You'll be sorely missed.

How about you--do you still enjoy print books?  If so, where do you get them?  Do you also read ebooks?


Raquel Byrnes said...

I do, actually, but I love the convenience of eBooks as well. Its a shame to see another store go by the wayside though. :(

Barbara M. Hodges said...

Like you I have a Kindle, but I still enjoy reading print books. I do a monthly interview show on Blog Talk Radio, and my guests always send their books ahead of time to read.

And I just returned home from Left Coast Crime, so have a large stack of paper books to enjoy.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I hope things will be balanced someday, Raquel, so we can choose which format to read in. I particularly hope bookstores will still be around so we can buy from them after looking at the books in person.

Linda O. Johnston said...

How fun that you do interviews, Barbara! It makes sense for you to get copies of books well in advance of those interviews. And have fun with all the books from LCC. Wish I could have gone this year. I'm really looking forward to Malice.

Betty Hechtman said...

E-books are convenient, but there's no worry about a dead battery with a paper book.