Sunday, April 14, 2013

Alphabet Crime: Letter B

Here we are kicking off another year of the Alphabet in Crime Fiction hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.  Each week she expects participants to produce a post featuring a mystery/crime novel, mystery novelist, or crime fiction topic related to that week's letter.  In the past I have pretty much stuck to titles or authors, but this year I'm going to try and produce posts on various crime and mystery topics.  
After this weekend's experience, I've decided to do B...as in Bookstore.  More specifically, used Bookstores.  And even more specifically, used Bookstores that carry vintage mysteries.  There aren't as many of those around as there used to be.  So many of the ones I've found over the years have sold up, closed out, and disappeared.  I've mentioned Mason's Rare & Used Books here on the blog before.  Mason's is where I fed my Nancy Drew habit and found all the other mysteries that Nancy led me to.  Mr. Mason started in my hometown of Wabash and I haunted his shop from the time I was about seven until I graduated from high school.  At about that time, Mr. Mason sold his shop to some of his employees and headed east....in search of rare books that never made it to the Midwest.  He stayed away for nearly ten years and then moved back to Indiana and opened up another incarnation of Mason's near Indianapolis.  And for a few more years I had the pleasure of handing over my extra money to Mr. Mason for those delightful things...used books.  Until he retired and closed up shop for good.  

And, over the years, there have been far too many used bookshops that have closed.  There was that nice little shop in Brownsburg (called most originally, "The Used Bookshop") that I only got to visit once before it disappeared.  And the tiny little shop (that I can't remember the name of) on the way to Vincennes where I found my first 1st edition Dorothy L. Sayers twenty years ago.  And Partners & Crime in New York City that closed the year after I visited.  And the

And now....well, Bloomington used to have four used bookshops (non-academic).  Being a college town, there always seemed to be plenty of support to keep the stores going.  Each of them had their own personality and I visited them all fairly regularly.  After April 30, we'll be down to one.  This weekend I discovered that The Book Rack was going out of business.  All books are 50% off. Which is nice--but I'd rather keep the store.  Here's hoping that the Caveat Emptor stays open for a good long time.

Now, I realize that there's this invention called the internet and it's so very easy to go online and search for that long-sought-after, hard-to-find classic mystery.  But that takes away from the thrill of the hunt for me.  Clicking a few buttons on the computer just can't compare to browsing the shelves in a brick and mortar store; meandering one's way along the aisle and then....can it be? A Dell Map Back edition? A find like that makes me pounce (quite literally) and grab the book from the shelf before someone lurking in the shadows can snatch it from under my nose.  You just can't pounce at a book on a computer screen.  I had that kind of an experience Saturday--for probably the last time in The Book Rack.  There sitting innocently on the shelf was Murders in Volume 2 by Elizabeth Daly.  Not a first edition, unfortunately--not even close--but one of the few Daly titles that I've never read and have never been able to find while on my bookstore hunts.  I pounced....and brought it home.  

My husband and I found a used bookshop that nearly matches my memories of the first Mason's when we were on our Route 66 trip last year.  As anyone who read my write-up of the trip knows, there was lots of pouncing and I came home with a treasure trove of Map Back editions and pocket size editions.  We're planning another trip in June--let's hope that Books on the Square is still loaded with stacks of vintage mysteries just waiting for the hunter.

6 comments:

TracyK said...

Another great post for the Crime Fiction Alphabet. You have been incredibly lucky at finding bookstores that have old books like Mapbacks. Even when I used to have access to good used book stores, none of them had any vintage books like that.

writebywriting said...

I love the local used bookstore. And finding a good one when you least expect it is like winning the lottery. My favorite one was on a backroad somewhere in the middle of Vermont. I came away with a bunch of Erle Stanley Gardners and a few Agatha Christies.

Margot Kinberg said...

Bev - I absolutely love secondhand bookshops! As you say, it's not easy to find ones that also carry a lot of vintage mysteries, but every once in a while, you find one. One of these days I'd like to do a 'bookshop vacation' and just tour around looking for good shops...

Gigi Ann said...

I loved your post today. I too love to browse through used bookstores, as a matter of fact, I love to browse through any bookstore. And can we ever come out of a bookstore without at least one book we just couldn't pass by? I know I can't. Here's hoping you... Have a happy reading week...

neer said...

What a lovely post Bev. Finding vintage titles is extremely rare. There was one raddiwallah that I used to frequent but he has now closed down.

Scott said...

Most of my collection is from the bookstores of yesteryear.