The romance of Abebooks
I love to browse in bookshops. One favourite is Scarthin books in Cromford, nr Matlock, which sells both new and second-hand. I used to go there so often with my small daughter that she got it muddled up with the library and used to call it ‘the library shop.’ Another is Heffer’s book shop in Cambridge to which I paid one of my regular visits yesterday. Now that Murder One, the London crime fiction bookshop, has closed, Heffer’s probably has the best selection of crime fiction in the country, thanks to the wonderful fiction buyer, Richard Reynolds. He can usually be found at his desk in the crime fiction section and I always ask him to recommend something. I’ve come across some terrific books that way – Rennie Airth’s THE BLOOD-DIMMED TIDE, Colin Cotterill’s series featuring the Laos coroner, Dr Siri – and yesterday came away with Louise Penny’s STILL LIFE. That personal recommendation can’t be bettered. And in a bookshop there’s always the chance you’ll come across something that you didn’t know you wanted until it sparks your imagination- and that can be gold dust for a writer.
But I do like buying books on the internet too – and especially through Abebooks. The names of the shops and places are so evocative. Aunt Agatha’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Poisoned Pen in Phoenix, Arizona . . . I’d love to do a road trip touring mystery bookshops in the US and maybe I will one day. In the meantime it is magical to me that I can order a book from a shop in Pasadena in the evening and find an e-mail the next morning that tells me it has been sent out. And the things that are sometimes sent out with the books . . . but that is a story for another day . . .