I’m writing today in support of a fantastic independent bookstore here in Houston, Texas. Murder By the Book (“Where a good crime is had by all”) is a local bookstore that does everything right. It’s focused on the muder mystery/crime genre of fiction, and scattered around their comfortable shop are appropriate touches–a raven here, a bottle of hemlock there, and a teddy bear in a straight jacket over there. The staff are friendly, very knowledgeable, and not at all pushy. Also scattered around the store are mini-reviews and recommendations by the staff–exactly the sort of value-added touch that you like to see from people who really know their stuff.
But why, you ask, am I promoting a mystery bookstore on a science fiction site?
Well, aside from the fact that we all win when great bookstores do well, it turns out that Murder by the Book is also putting out some feelers to the sf/f community here in Houston. Their staff-picks bookcase included The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and it finally convinced me to pick up a copy. The gentleman at the cash register mentioned how impressive it was that the book had garnered rave reviews from the staff, considering that it only barely overlaps with their core genre. I mentioned that I was a sf/f fan, and he immediately told me about some of the sf/f authors they have coming in to sign. They’re trying to get a feel for what sort of sf/f fan base there might be around Houston, to see if they should branch out a little more in that direction. I say, YES! Let’s show them that we’re here, and with any luck we can get a few more authors to come down to see us–I remember when I first moved here, John DeNardo and JP Frantz were complaining that, yeah, though Houston is the fourth largest city in America, it’s almost never a stop on genre authors’ book tours.
Murder By the Book brought in Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss last year (which someone — perhaps distracted by bagels — forgot to mention to me), Robin Hobb was there just last week, and coming up soon are Gail Carriger on March 2nd and Amber Benson on March 3rd. I’ll be at Gail’s signing, although I won’t be able to make Amber’s. Joe Lansdale will be there on March 24th. Check out See here for their complete author line-up.
The shop is easy to get to, right off Hwy 59 (2342 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX), with an (I’m told) excellent Italian restaurant across the way and coffee shop next door. One block further down is another independent local bookstore, Brazos Books, which has a great selection of local interest, poetry, art and architecture, and children’s books, amongst much else. What’s not to love! If you’re in the area, please consider coming down and checking them out, and buying a book or two. Book stores that do it right should be amply rewarded, and showing them some love from the sf/f side may reap dividends.