Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sad Farewell

by Marlyn Beebe.

I just got home from Book'em Mysteries, a bookstore in South Pasadena, California.
Book'em has been in existence for almost 24 years, opening in a new location down the street from the original, which was destroyed by an arsonist less than a year after it first opened.

Sadly, Book 'em will be closing at the end of this month, because owners Mary Riley and Barry Martin are going to retire.  Today, they had their final author event, featuring Naomi HiraharaWendy Hornsby, and Sue Ann Jaffarian.

Naomi asked to facilitate the event, as she had grown up in Pasadena and thought of Book 'em as her neighborhood bookstore.

Naomi shares her fondness for Book'em
Wendy, Sue Ann, and Naomi each shared a bit about their most recent books, there were questions from the audience, and then a few members of the crowd described the significance of Book'em in their lives.  

Wendy Hornsby (left) and Sue Ann Jaffarian

One woman said that it became a place where she knew she'd feel welcome when she first moved to Pasadena in the early 1990s, and members of reading and writing groups which have been meeting at the bookstore talked about having to find new locations.  Mary Riley and long-time manager Jean Utley said a few words, too.  

Besides the featured authors, there were others on hand to pay their respects, including Timothy Hallinan, whom I was fortunate to have sitting beside me, and Linda O. Johnston, who slipped out before I had a chance to greet her. 

Timothy Hallinan
Too many members of the local mystery community were present for me to list them all (even if I could remember the names to go with the faces), and the atmosphere was convivial but melancholy.

I feel badly that I haven't visited Book'em as often as I could have.  It's only about 25 miles away, but Southern California freeway traffic and the busy-ness of life are strong (though perhaps not good) excuses.

Farewell, Book'em. You will be greatly missed.


  1. Thanks for sharing. It's always fun to hear about author friends, but sad to learn of another indie store closing.

    1. It was certainly a bittersweet occasion, L.J.

  2. It is sad to hear of this store's closing. Too bad they couldn't find someone to carry on, but I completely understand wanting to retire. I think owning your own business sounds kind of romantic and liberating and it is exactly the opposite. Your life is truly not your own.

    At least you were able to visit one last time, and you had wonderful company.

    1. I agree with you that owning a business (especially a bookstore, which sounds like heaven to most booklovers) really takes over one's life. Which, I suppose, it not necessarily a bad thing!

  3. It's always sad to hear about the closing of another bookstore. Maybe in a few months the need will be so great that a new one will open. One can dream...

    Denver's Tattered Cover has three locations and each of them, in my opinion, are community assets.

    1. I think any well-run bookstore is a community asset, Peg. I think the need for independent bookstores is growing, and am dreaming of a wonderful new one opening nearby.

  4. I hope that the store's closing is a matter of choice. I know things are hard for the indies.
    In Minneapolis we are lucky to have "Once Upon a Crime" ). It is a treasure but I believe they (and other indies) are working hard to make a go of it.. I've learned that some people go to "Once..." and browse while making a list of books they want. They then go home and order from Amazon, etc. One of these folks admitted unashamedly that this is what they were doing. Decidedly uncool.
    I hope these great businesses can carry on.

    1. Mary and Barry are closing the store so they can retire. I don't know if they tried to sell, or just didn't want to.


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