Thursday, July 16, 2009

Closing Kate’s

Sadly, it’s been more than a few years since I was last able to paw through the offerings at Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Yet news that the store will close next month still strikes me hard. Even before our current economic recession, there were not enough good, small, independent bookstores operating in the United States. Now, each new closure seems like an insult to our future, further evidence that our reading habits are to be controlled by fewer and fewer corporate chieftains.

Kate’s Mystery Books was opened in 1983 by former social worker Kate Mattes, who had interned at Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop in New York City to learn the business. Just last year Kate’s won a Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America “for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.” But doing good doesn’t always ensure commercial longevity. Mattes has sold the big red Victorian house on Mass. Ave. in which her store is located, and must move out. As Ellen Clair Lamb writes in her Answer Girl blog,
The bookstore will survive in some format, remaining to be seen; Kate will continue to sponsor author events and her annual holiday party at different locations around Cambridge and Boston.

But in the meantime, all the books have to leave the house. Thus, she’s scheduled a massive book sale and packing day for Saturday, August 1, from 11:00 to 5:00. Even Kate’s not quite sure about everything she’s got; she has titles in her back room, outside public view, that collectors dream about, and it’s quite possible that some of these titles will be available for sale at this event.
I wish I could be among those shopping at Kate’s for the last time.

UPDATE: In noting that Kate’s Mystery Books will soon close, Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site mentions that “the store was once the home of the now-inactive Judas Goates, Robert B. Parker’s fan club.” I, for one, did not remember that.

THERES MORE:Kate’s Mystery Books, R.I.P.,” by Jeanne Munn Bracken (Writers Plot); “Local Booksellers Save the Planet!
(Barbara Fister’s Place).

1 comment:

William Landay said...

Kate's store will be sorely missed, like so many other one-of-a-kind indie shops we've lost. But I am glad that Kate herself will remain on the local book scene. It is no surprise she was a social worker in a past life -- this is a genuinely good person. I'll never forget how she reached out to me when my first book came out and has supported my books ever since. Thank you, Kate Mattes!