Saturday, October 3, 2009

This Week's Odds and Ends

Happy Sunday. I have a busy weekend lined up in an effort to get a good chuck of the Six-Word Memoir scrapbook finished for Bouchercon, which by the way, is now less than 2 WEEKS away. I absolutely can not believe it. It is on the horizon.

But, there is also something else on the horizon...Christmas. There appear to be 81 shopping days until Christmas. Don't worry. I'm not going to do a Christmas countdown, I promise. I'm not ready for decorations or music or anything like that yet, but usually I start thinking about Christmas gifts long before this. It's a financial thing. I simply can't afford to wait until Thanksgiving to start doing the shopping. Have to spread it out. This year my attentions have been all focused on Bouchercon - I know that comes as a complete surprise to you all! And I'm sure by now you're all going, "Jen, this is a book blog; what does this have to do with anything?" Well, in my wordy, round-a-bout way I'm getting to some recommendations. First, I'd like to once again begin to recommend books as Christmas gifts. I was utterly disgusted when I read this quote from a NYT article about the possibility of adding versatility to the Kindle:

"My general thought is that the limitations of e-ink make this a limited device for applications," said Evan Schnittman, vice president at Oxford University Press. "It's for reading, not interactivity. The refresh rate alone would kill anything remotely fun or cool." (Article: "Will Amazon Open the Kindle to Developers"; New York Times, Sept. 25, 2009)

Uhm, EXCUSE ME? Who says that READING isn't fun or cool? And the vice president of Oxford University Press? Huh? I think it is both, which is why I want to send that message by using books as gifts, especially for my niece and nephew who are young and need to learn from the get-go that reading is both cool and fun. So, all that hoopla to first remind you of some FABULOUS bookstores that specialize in mystery/crime fiction. I love all of these stores. They work incredibly hard to bring about the best of the best in customer service. And if you're wondering, yes, I believe all of them will be able to tell you books what would be great gifts for me - ha! Just kidding.

The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles totally won my heart when I visited there in April. If you ever want to feel like family, just cross the threshold of their store. Of course, I don't have the chance to visit often physically, but via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail I've experienced events and such that would have never been possible 10 years ago! Bobby, Linda and the entire staff are beyond wonderful. I have to give a special shout out to Emily who was corresponding with me this week, too. Just love all of them there! As part of their customer service you can expect many things. I know if I order a book to be shipped from them, it will come in pristine condition. I'm not kidding. They package that baby up so it could make a detour through WWIII and still come to me in perfect condition. They also have a slew of signed books, so if you want to give an extra-special gift you can find one of the many titles that they have available autographed by the author. Or even better yet, if you know the author is going to be doing an event there, you can order your book and request to have it personalized. Wouldn't that make a heck of a gift? Absolutely awesome folks!

The Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, is another great resource for your mystery book shopping list. If you're planning in advance, they can order ANY book for you (as I'm sure any of these stores on my list would be willing to do). And like The Mystery Bookstore in L.A., they are customer service-centered. The last time I visited, I was driving in to see Craig Johnson's event and I was greeted at the door with a warm reception. I almost felt like I was the guest of honor, not Craig. And that's how they treat you, like their guest of honor. They also carry a significant line of puzzles and games. I bought Banana-grams for my niece from them. Very cool. If you're ordering a purchase for delivery in advance, you can get free shipping for any order over $10. It comes media mail, so you need to have enough time for it to get to you, but if you need it quicker, for a nominal fee they will ship it in under quicker rating. They often have signed books on hand from their many events as well, so you can check and see what is available at any given time.

The Foul Play Bookstore in Westerville, Ohio, is another specialty mystery bookstore I've had the joy of experiencing. They have a nice selection of used books, cat gifts (gifts with cat themes that is - not gifts FOR your cat) and new releases. They can also order books for you if you're interested in certain titles. Their store is very unique because it is a renovated Victorian home. If you have the chance to attend an event - not in the winter - you can sit out on the beautiful back porch with them and enjoy the fresh air. And again, I can't say enough about how nice the people are. Despite the fact that villains are doing bad things IN our books, super nice folks are selling those books to us, I promise!

And finally I want to highlight a bookstore that I haven't ever actually visited. It's Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas. I am so determined to visit these folks. I've gotten to know the store a little through Twitter, and I have to tell you that I am totally in love with these. And this duel interview was awesome! I'm also extremely envious of all the amazing events they have there. You can obtain autographed copies of books, order whatever suits your fancy, and get great recommendations. As a matter of fact, assistant manager David just gave me a recommendation this week. If I can't manage to get there before, our organization has its trade show in Houston in 2011 and I'll make sure I visit THEN!

So I've given you some stores all around the country. I do hope that you will think of one of them - or another independent near you - when you're doing your book shopping this year. Remember they can order anything for you, and I know they will be willing to do so. These folks are all about customer service. They do what they do because they LOVE selling mystery and crime fiction books to you.

I know there are many more great stores out there; this list is a list of the ones who have made a tremendous and lasting impression on me. I am certain they will do the same for you.

And just a few other odds and ends before I head off to do my weekly grocery shopping...ugh. I am thrilled for Steve Weems who is going to see his first book published very soon. During the manuscript process, he asked if I would read it and give him some feedback. Well, the English teacher in me probably provided a bit more than what he was actually expecting (sorry, Steve), and I felt bad because it took me FOR-EVER to get through the manuscript, reading parts at lunch breaks and before bed and whatnot. So, it's very neat to have been involved in his "process" and now see this.

If you have a chance snag a copy of the Oct. 12th?/15th? PEOPLE magazine. It should actually be out now, whichever date it actually is. I'm picking mine up when I go out this morning. There is a review in the books section of, yes, Louise Penny's THE BRUTAL TELLING. How fabulous is this? Not only did she make a B&N Main Selection, a NYT Best Seller, a USA Today top 150, but she also made PEOPLE magazine. This is huge and it is wonderful. Go Louise!

O.k., I think that is about it for this edition of odds and ends. I hope you have a wonderful week. It may be a little on the thin side here at Jen's Book Thoughts as I plug away at that scrapbook, but rest assured a mystery backlist title tomorrow and new memoirs on Wednesday.

Happy Reading!


rhapsodyinbooks October 4, 2009 at 11:26 AM  

Madison, Wisconsin also has a mystery bookstore called Booked for Murder, which I always thought was a wonderful name.

That's a bit scary that there are only 81 more shopping days until Christmas! It seems like we only just had summer!!!

le0pard13 October 4, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

Well, you know I completely agree with your appreciation of the Mystery Book Store in L.A. They are great! But, someday I'd like to visit the others you describe here. Thanks, Jen.

Michelle Gagnon October 6, 2009 at 2:40 PM  

Hear, hear! I love mystery bookstores. From this list I've only had the chance to visit the LA Mystery Bookstore, and they are indeed phenomenal. Also love M is for Mystery in San Mateo, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, the list goes on and on...

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