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 Hirahara, Wendy 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.
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.
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.