Monday, March 09, 2009

Sleuth of Baker Street (Toronto)

Had a pleasant and productive Sunday afternoon at Toronto's Sleuth of Baker Street crime-fiction bookstore. I bought what promises to be some good Canadian, Norwegian and Cuban-Canadian books, and I enjoyed the easy, familiar interaction between the shop's owner and customers. More cities should have bookshops like this one.

I also met with John McFetridge to plan Wednesday's first Noir at the Bar outside the U.S., and I took a picture that could win me some free books in this contest at Central Crime Zone.

All told, a well-above-average crime-fiction day, though I seem to have lost an hour somewhere.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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20 Comments:

Blogger seanag said...

That's a great storefront.

Cuban-Canadian mysteries?

Bypassing the U.S. entirely?

Do tell.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Whatever happened to that coup in Canada we heard about in December? Are there paramilitary police in the streets? Do you fear for your life? Are your blog entries censored? McF has been reassuring but I fear that he may have been co-opted by the dark forces and is only telling us what we want to hear.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Sounds like an interesting place. If you are ever in Tucson, Arizona, I would recommend a visit to Clues Unlimited, an independent bookstore devoted to mysteries.

The Clues Unlimited mystery book group meets the second Sunday of the month, today in fact, to discuss the selection for the month. The selection today was Edmund Crispin's _The Case of the Gilded Fly_. Next month the selection is Kate Atkinson's _Case Histories_.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Sleuth of Baker Street rocks.

And you are officially entered in the contest.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Cool facade!
And you must let us hear more about Nesbø - most of his books are fantastic.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, the mystery bookstores I've visited do tend disproportionately to be cool places with cool storefronts.

Yep, Cuban Canadian, though there is a U.S. connection in the book. Think Meyer Lansky, Mickey Mantle.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, Canadians know how to relax, and many of us are still low-key and polite. No revolutionary ferment here.

John did mention something about a subject that has been a focus of recent discussion on your blog, though. And you should click that Cuban-Canadian link. The novel in question, by a neighbor of McFetridge's, mentions Mickey Mantle on its back cover.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Fred. I shall keep your suggestion in mind. I've visited three crime-fiction stores in recent months, and the knowledge, stock, warmth and hospitality in each have warmed my heart. I would not at all mind adding more shops to my list.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jon, Sleuth rocks, all right. As I was browsing, several customers came in and exchanging greeting with J.D. like old friends. It was the kind of shopping that cannot be replicated in a big chain store.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dorte, I've read two of Nesbø's novel's, and I've written quite a bit about him, including a citation for a funny exchange about the Rolling Stones in The Devil's Star.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

And seems to be a model of how bookstores can stay in business. Extremely smart store owners who love books and love reading encouraging like minded patrons. Many people who work in the chains appear to 1)hate books 2) hate their job 3) hate the management 4) hate the customers.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or maybe they just try to be too many things to too many people.

This was the most fun I'd had in a bookstore since Murder Ink and No Alibis.

March 09, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

I like your thinking, guys, but I'm sad to say that I've seen too many places where the small, knowledgable store model is not enough. It does look like Borders is in an extremely precarious position right now, and if they do tumble, that could change the landscape considerably. Though even that could have unforeseeable consequences for publishers, and by extension, writers. And who knows who all else? It's just like everything in this seemingly endlessly intertwined economy. There's a ripple effect that's not predictable.

v word, by the way is 'taught'.

March 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if the small, knowledgeable store model is better for specialized stores than for comprehensive ones. Of course, a number of crime-fiction stores have closed in recent years, too.

March 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And yes, Seana, a Cuban-Canadian mystery, or at least a Cuban mystery by a Cuban Canadian author. The story is set in Cuba in 1958.

March 10, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

You know I kept meaning to ask what the book and author were and just now realized that there was a link. I recognize Latour's name now that I see it. We've carried him, but I haven't read him.

I don't mean to sound so doom and gloomish about the whole industry. True, there are a lot of factors set against any storefront at the moment, but sometimes luck does play that extra part and keep the whole thing going. I just think the fact that any bookstores go down can not really be brought down to the factor of apathetic employees. And I'm not saying that in a defensive mode--I know in our local Borders that I've heard all sorts of different kinds of experiences, including why can't we, as a staff, be more like them, but also including young college age people feeling ignored because they weren't the big buyers. (Though how you can tell who is a big buyer these days is anyone's guess.) And I also know that we get the whole gamut of praise and criticism as well. I know there are better and worse run operations, but the fact is that the highs and lows are all just part of the world of retail.

Sorry, slipped back to the cynical tone again.

March 10, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I dont know if I'd be so gloomy. When I worked at B&N I loved it and not just beacuse of the all Barnard girls coming in asking questions (though that was great), but because I really liked connecting the right person with the right book. Everytime I sold someone Kidnapped by RLS I felt I had done a public service. Dont you think that that kind of business can still survive? I do. They say that only 5000 people keep all the plays and operas going in NYC. There's 300 million people in America, we probably only need about 1 percent of them to buy a reasonable number of books a month for publishing to survive.

March 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana: Cynicism is the great American heresy, but I welcome heretics here. I had not heard of Jose Latour until John McFetridge had mentioned the name.

I also don't mean to suggest that I have even a rudimentary knowledge of the book trade. I'm just grasping at commonplaces and offering impressions gained from fleeting experiences. And I don't know, except in general terms, how the current economic downturn is specifically affecting small and large bookstores.

March 10, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

I don't mean to imply that I have more than a rudimentary knowledge of the book trade either, evidence to the contrary. I know a bit about certain corners of it, but as far as putting together a larger comprehensive picture, I'm just speculating along with everyone else.

Actually, and perhaps surprisingly, given my own recent comments here, I am slightly heartened by the trends. I do think the digital age is a larger threat than any of the chains ever were, but for now, people haven't grabbed on to these en masse. It may be a price point thing, but one of my friends at work said that the trend is for even people who aren't averse to ebook reading to want to buy print copies of books they really like. And I do see that as a model of the near future. I mean, if there even is a future, which is hard to say. (Sorry, doomster voice took over again for the moment. Quelled.)

As far as I can see, people are still buying books. It's still more than I can entirely fathom, as, though I do read a fair amount, I've never been a huge purchaser of new hardbacks, and have little understanding of why anybody who did not have cash to burn would be. I mean, I would like to have that sort of disposable income, but few do. I'm afraid those few are going to have to be responsible for keeping the hardback side of the book industry alive. But as Adrian says, maybe there are enough.

March 11, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Your corners are sharper than my corners, and I suspect you speculate with a bit more authority than I do.

In any case, I have heard it said that just as digital distribution did not destroy music, digital distribution won't destroy books. One wonders if e-books, if they become widespread, will be cheap enough to serve as teasers for readers who will then buy the print versions. So yes, I like that suggestion of yours. I did spend this evening with a bunch of authors, and some were apprehensive about piracy becoming an issue, just as it was and still is, somewhat, in music.

And yes, new hardbacks are hellishly expensive, though I did buy one at Sleuth of Baker Street this week.

March 11, 2009  

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