Selling a Mystery


I read a lot of crime fiction, and I’m fortunate enough to work close to a great local bookstore — Aunt Agatha’s New & Used Mysteries, Detection & True Crime Books. Co-owner Jamie really knows his books, and his love for the genre is evident. I’ve had several conversations with him about books, movies, and everything noir; and he doesn’t generally display that glaze in the eyes that typically afflicts others when I speak.

I’ve been sorting through my collection of books and have donated several bags worth to libraries and raffles. After finishing a recently purchased mystery book and deciding that it wasn’t a keeper, it dawned on me that I could probably sell it to Jamie. I took it in to work with me to test this theory, and it sat on my desk for a month while mental notes about selling it piled up in my brain.

Finally on a warm, sunny afternoon I picked it up to go try my luck. Wendi went with me for the excuse to get outside. We walked into the mystery shop, and Jamie greeted us. I presented the book and announced that I’d come to sell it. He sized it up quickly and offered a dollar. That was a buck I didn’t have before, so I readily agreed.

Then he asked if I hadn’t liked the book. I admitted that it hadn’t really grabbed me. After the novelty of being set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula had worn off, there really hadn’t been anything to hold my attention: murder, treachery, or the like. Jamie allowed that series didn’t have wide appeal, then as an aside mentioned that there was another series based in the UP that might be more my speed.

He walked over to a nearby shelf as he talked and deftly picked out a paperback without seeming to have looked for it. It was the first book in the series, and he thought it’d better suit my taste. Before I knew what was happening, I had paid $3.50 for the book (less the $1 credit) and was heading back to work.

Wendi glanced at my new book curiously. “What’s that?”

I stammered a bit. “He’s really good,” I finally confessed. She just shook her head and allowed that I at least hadn’t increased my book count.

Aunt Agatha’s can’t give the discounted prices that Amazon does, but I’ll happily spend a few extra bucks for recommendations based on actual knowledge.

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4 thoughts on “Selling a Mystery

  1. I would happily give a kidney up to have a science fiction bookstore as good as Aunt Agatha’s within walking distance of work. Not MY kidney, necessarily, but A kidney.

  2. Stories like this make me wish I was an actual reader…as a librarian I make a great video store clerk, but for recommending books I’m terrible. I read the random clutter that I acquire and the stuff I seek out based upon what’s floating about in my disordered mind, I don’t read any genre or author systematically, and I read few enough books (since I started keeping track on Goodreads I’ve never managed to hit 40 books a year, and that’s counting collections of comic books) that I am just never going to be good at that sort of thing. Thank god I work in Academic, where you ability to recommend books based on personal knowledge isn’t as important; I’d get eaten alive in Public.

    That’s a really cool sounding shop, and good on you for supporting it.

    • Honestly, I shouldn’t buy any books for a few decades. I have very little time to read and a large amount of books I haven’t gotten around to.

      So Tim and I stopped in at Aunt Agatha’s again at lunch today.

      • Heh. I’m like that with the library’s ongoing book sale. I’m always picking up the books I’d like to read but never seem to get to.

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