|Kathy Harig at Scintillation of Scions VI|
When I was in high school, I frequently rode the bus downtown to buy used paperback mysteries at Ohio Book Store. That's a fond memory.
I'm happy to report that Ohio Book Store is still around -- but now it's the only book store in downtown Cincinnati. As every reader knows, the megastore and e-book have made surivival tough for small, independent book dealers. A friend of mine who runs a business selling Sherlockian materials told me sadly that many of his old customers look at his website to find out what's new -- then buy from Amazon!
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and our local book megastore Joseph-Beth sell millions of books, including my own. I also buy books from them, both print and e-books. So it would be both hypocritical and ungrateful of me to trash them. But I want to say a few words here in praise of the little stores.
Take, for example, Mystery Loves Company, which offers new and gently used books from Oxford, MD. It's a full-service specialty book store with personal attention. I've never been to Oxord, MD, but we had the pleasure of meeting store owner Kathy Harig earlier this month at A Scintillation of Scions, the Sherlock Holmes conference, in Hanover, MD. We also bought a few books from her.
Mysteries clearly are Kathy's passion as well as her livelihood. That's obvious on her website with its book lists, helpful hints on what to read next, and a montly newsletter. Not all small book stores are as professional and well organized as this one, but many are. If you haven't shopped at a small book store lately, please do -- not to do the owner a favor, but to do yourself one.