By Brett Battles


Am I talking about the freedom to love who or what you want?

No…well, yes, but no.

The freedom to love yourself.

Ah, no.

The freedom to love the Independent Party?

…shaking head…no. A thousand times no.

I mean, you’re free to love all those things, but I’m talking about true independent love. The love of the independent bookstore.

I kind of think of independent bookstore like good Irish pubs. You can go into any and feel at home. But you always have your local, the one right around the corner, where they know you so well that you can just drop in for a chat and not even buy a drink, or a book…though buying is always appreciated.

My local is the wonderful Mystery Bookstore in West Los Angeles, California. It’s probably no more than five or six miles from my place, but due to the particulars of my fair city (ah, traffic, and stop lights…how I love thee), it’s about a twenty minute drive (fifteen if I’m really, really lucky…and am not stopped for speeding.)

Confession: I never visited the store before I’d become a soon to be published author.

Now it was not because I had no interest, rather it was because I didn’t know the place existed. (I blame my own ignorance.) But once I did know I made it a point to drop in and say hello. My first visit was either on December 30th, 2006 or January 2nd, 2007. I remember because it was definitely right around New Year’s Day, and just six months prior to when my first novel was to debut.

I met the incredible Bobby McCue that day. He’s the manager of the store. I also met the absolutely wonderful Linda Brown, the assistant manager. (Both of whom have helped me above and beyond on numerous occasions since.) I introduced myself, told them about my book coming out, and said that I was also local. They took me under their wing immediately, and I’ve been returning over and over again since.

Their staff is also wonderful, and is always welcoming when someone they know shows up. The funny thing is, they’re just as welcoming when someone they don’t know walks through the door for the first time.

Last year, the store came under the new ownership of Pam Woods and Kirk Pasich, and the only thing that seemed to change was that the place got even better.

I’ve chosen this moment to talk about them because this is the BIG WEEKEND. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is Saturday and Sunday within walking distance of the Mystery Bookstore on the UCLA campus. As always, the store has a PRIME location for their booth (#411), and an outstanding schedule of signings. (Me…I’m signing on Saturday at 2 p.m. with T. Jefferson Parker, Robert Crais, Gregg Hurwitz, Ed Decter, and my good friend and Murderati compadre Robert Gregory Browne…a signing group you don’t want to miss!)

But wait! That’s not all!

Every year on the Friday evening before the festival, the Mystery Bookstore throws a huge party. I’m sure upwards to two hundred people show up throughout the evening. My guess would be that 75% of the attendees are authors, and the rest are lovers of the genre. It’s a ton of fun with people who think like we think, and enjoy the things that we enjoy. In other words our friends, whether we’ve met them before or not.

Most parties, you’ll either find me along the wall just observing or not even there. Not this party, this one is like coming home.

In fact, that’s what going to the Mystery Bookstore is like everyday. Coming home.

If you’re in the area, coming to the party. If you’re not, try to make it next year! You won’t regret it.


Tell us about your “local” or favorite independent bookstore. And are you coming to the festival this weekend?

(Apologies for potential lack of responses as I’ll be traveling a good part of the day and unable to check the internet. But I promise to read everything, and, hopefully, see many of you this weekend!)

14 thoughts on “INDEPENDENT LOVE

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Brett

    Even if I’d wanted to, I think the flight chaos in the UK would make trying to fly anywhere this weekend a nightmare. Have a great time. I’ll be thinking of you!

    We don’t really have very many independent mystery bookstores in the UK, apart from the wonderful Goldsboro Books in London, but I’ve visited a lot in the States, and they’re ALL heroes ;-]

  2. JD Rhoades

    My local is the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines. It’s been around as long as I’ve been alive, I think. It’s quite good, especially since they expanded a few years back. I also love McIntyre’s in Pittsboro, and Park Road Books in Charlotte.

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Bobby and Linda and the Mystery Bookstore are awesome. I so wish I could be at the Festival this year but life continues to intrude.

    I have several locals. In LA it’s the Mystery Bookstore, Dark Delicacies in Burbank, Book Soup, and also Mysterious Galaxy – in San Diego.

    In Raleigh it’s the fabulous Quail Ridge Books, which every author should know about (and bestsellers and publishers already do – QR packs the house for author events and their book club members buy books like crazy.). The Regulator in Durham is also great.

  4. Louise Ure

    This is the first year in a long time that I won’t be there at the party or the Festival. Dang. What a good time. And Bobby and Linda are just the best.

  5. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Let’s see, favorite independent bookstore…that would have to be, THE MYSTERY BOOKSTORE in Westwood, CA!
    For all the same reasons.
    I’m also a big fan of Book Soup in West Hollywood. Another big favorite was The Either/Or Bookstore which sat in downtown Hermosa Beach for over thirty years before gentrification left it unable to pay its growing overhead.
    I will also be signing at Booth #411 on Saturday, and I’m on a panel at 3:00. This is definitely the most exciting Festival for me, because, for the first time, I know most of the authors. Last year when I attended it was before my debut. This year I’m gonna be in heaven.
    Can’t wait to see you at the party, Brett! And, Louise, I’m going to miss you dearly.

  6. Nancy Laughlin

    My favorite is the M is for Mystery in San Mateo, CA. The people are wonderful, and I’ve found series there that I didn’t know existed as they aren’t carried in the chain stores. I seldom leave there without a bag (or two) full of books and a hundred or more less in my bank account.

  7. toni mcgee causey

    The only local indie I have is a dear friend, who’s now changed his bookstore to be a large majority of old, hard-to-find texts. He still has some shelves of new books, but it’s mostly literary or classics. I love his store, but he’s not carrying most of the genres I love to read.

    There used to be another one called Elliot’s, but it’s been gone for years. We have two B&N’s, two BAMs, and one Borders. I wish there was a fabulous indie nearby.

  8. Fran

    Well, obviously my favorite indie is a bit north of those in California. But then it would be. . .

    Anyway, the festival sounds like a blast, and I wish I could be there!

  9. Laura

    Thanks for sharing the love with the independent bookstores, I work in one in Australia, and it’s nice to know that even with the department and chain stores slowly eating up the market there is still a lot of love for the indies.
    Laura 🙂


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