Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holy Crap, It's Christmas. I know where you can buy a great present; An Independent Book Store.

I’ve talked about how I love librarians, and I do. If they get behind an author you feel like you can accomplish anything. Another group that’s vital to a new writer is the independent bookseller. I wrote an article a couple years ago about one of the most endangered species in Florida: The Independent Bookseller. We’ve protected the rare Florida Key Deer, slashing the speed limit in their tiny sanctuary in the lower Keys, teaching the pubic about this small, genetic offshoot of the White Tail Deer and regarding them with a sort of awe and wonder with which we really should view all of God’s works of art.

But the independent book seller is also dying out. The wonderful Black Orchid of New York was the latest to slip into the La Brea Tar Pit of retail stores. Joe and Bonnie made me feel special when I would visit. More than once I’d meet someone who bought their first James O. Born novel from the Black Orchid.

I travel a lot now, especially when I have a new book out. The stores in Florida are universally supportive. Circle Books in Sarasota and Haslam’s in St. Pete push my books all year long. And I appreciate it. Joann Sinchuk of Murder on the Beach near my house has me speak to large book clubs all the time. I’m on great terms with most Florida booksellers through my travels and attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show. SIBA gives publishers a chance to introduce their writers to the people who’ll be selling their books and it’s a great chance to get to know one another.

Last year on tour I stopped at the L.A. Mystery Book Store (mainly so Linda could make fun of me), Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, The Poisoned Pen and Houston’s Murder by the Book in the west and loved every minute of it.

All of these stores are just great. McKenna Jordan and David Thompson of Murder by the Book, are true crime fiction experts. To give you an idea of how they hand sell and push good books, our own Paul Levine had all four of his Solomon VS. Lord series on their yearly bestseller list. If that’s not good taste, I don’t know what is.

What can we do to help these fierce, non-corporate stores? It’s simple, shop there. If you’re an author, when you’re on tour, stop at one. Recommend them to your friends. Barnes & Nobles will understand. I’ve never met a B&N manager that was in favor of crushing a local, independent store. Spend a few minutes thinking about ordering a book from your own local independent bookseller rather than logging onto Amazon. I’m not a communist but Jeff Bezos has enough money.

In short, tell your local independent bookseller how much they mean to you and, if they don’t think it’s too creepy, give them a hug.


  1. My favorite local independent bookstore, The Book Vault in Wallingford, Connecticut, closed on Halloween after four years. Owners Stu and Jan Hecht were amazing, they actually read the books they brought in! And they were wonderful to the great authors they brought in, as well as to their customers. But they were crushed by a struggling economy and a new Borders at the mall, not to mention the Barnes & Noble. It was a sad, sad day when they closed.

    I always try to support independents. You can't beat them.

  2. James O, have you seen your photo on The Mysery Bookstore's latest newsletter? Check thia out:

  3. Yes, a big HUG for all the independent booksellers, especially the mystery stores.

    Many thanks to the folks at "Murder by the Book" in Houston for hand-selling (art-twisting?) readers. (Actually, I think they sell the SvL books at gunpoint).

    "Murder" reports that "Solomon vs. Lord," a 2005 book, was the number one paperback this year. I'm grateful to McKenna & David, great supporters of the genre.

    For a mystery book store in your area, check out the website of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Assoc.

    You can order on-line at most stores, but it's more fun to drop in and browse.

  4. I don't think anyone would consider a hug from you as creepy. Even booksellers. :)

    And yes - I do support them, and remember them in my prayers every night.

    Happy Holidays you all!

  5. Thank's Elaine.

    Just wanted a milder post from last week.


  6. Well said, Mr. B. (I've bought all my Born and Bourne books, and others at Mysteries to Die For.)

    I'll be getting many Christmas gifts there, too, especially AFTER Christmas (new releases, you know).

    Merry Christmas to you and yours. God bless us, everyone.

    Tom, T.O.