Our guest blogger today is Mainely Murders, a bookstore in Kennebunk that specializes in mysteries, talking about Maine crime writers who are popular with their patrons.
At Mainely Murders, our five-year-old mystery bookstore in Kennebunk, we love Maine crime writers. And, for the multitude who call Maine home (even for only part of the year), there’s a mystery for every taste—from the very cozy to the darkly noir.
From the time we opened our doors (blood-red, of course), Maine mysteries have occupied a special place here—literally. Walk in, and there, just to the right of the door, are the shelves of Maine (and New England) writers. We also try very hard to have a strong backlist of these authors, and while we are primarily a used bookstore, we do sell new releases of our favorite authors.
While Maine books take up a relatively small part of our store, they are the first books that many summertime visitors head for when they enter. Whether looking for a title that will remind them of their vacation or eager to find a new (to them) writer, they often ask for recommendations. Because of the regional nature of much of the book business, some popular New England writers, for example, are virtually unknown elsewhere.
Indeed, unless their favorite writers and books top the New York Times Bestsellers list—or have inspired a made-for-TV movie or series—book buyers in general rely on recommendations. And our local customers are especially faithful to Maine writers once they learn about them.
This year, we’re focusing even more attention on Maine authors.
Now through September 15, those who purchase any book (new or used, hardback or paper) by a Maine crime writer will be entered into our Maine mystery writers contest. No restrictions on how often can enter; one entry for each book purchased.
Since May, we’ve already well ahead of last year’s sales of books by Maine writers. But, the best news is that customers—both local and from away—have returned and asked for more.
So, who sells at Mainely Murders (keeping in mind that we maintain fairly extensive backlists of many authors?)
Beginning with The Poacher’s Son, readers have embraced Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series. Last year, he was our best-selling Maine writer and ranked in the top 10 of all authors we carry. With each new book, he’s picked up new readers who invariably want to go back to the beginning and read them in order. For those who have followed him through Trespasser, Bad Little Falls, Massacre Pond, The Bone Orchard, and, now, The Precipice, there’s always the, “Call me when the next one comes out.”
Gerry Boyle’s Jack McMorrow books have been a favorite of mine since Deadline (1993), long before I became a mystery bookseller. A combination of a wonderfully clear, sharp writing style and a newspaper reporter protagonist—two clear-cut winners in my book—have made the McMorrow titles among my most highly recommended. (Thank you, thank you, Islandport Press, publisher of McMorrow #10, Once Burned, for its decision to reprint the earlier titles.)
Paul Doiron and Gerry Boyle share many readers. Mike Bowditch and Jack McMorrow aren’t that much different. Neither one is adverse to bending a few rules whether in Maine’s north woods, carrying a badge, or in its small towns, with a press pass.
On the distaff side, two of our favorite writers, Barbara Ross and Lea Wait, share readers in their new series. They also share a theme, young women returning home to Maine to save family businesses.
Customers who pick up the first of Barb Ross’ Maine Clambake Mysteries (Clammed Up) generally return for the two (Boiled Over and Musselled Out) that follow. We’re then happy to tell them Barb has signed a contract for three additional titles.
When Lea Wait, whose Shadow titles are very popular with our customers, published her first Mainely Needlepoint Mystery (Twisted Threads) this spring, our customers snatched it up. We now have a waiting list for her next two—Threads of Evidence (August 25) and Thread and Gone (December 29). We’re now delighted to share the news that she’s signed another three-book contract.
Others who consistently rank among our big sellers are John Connolly, Sarah Graves, Kate Flora, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kristen Dunnett , Tess Gerritsen, B.B. Haywood, and Katherine Hall Page, especially her Sanpere Island stories.
Because we focus on used titles, supplemented by new releases, we generally have the backlist of least some, if not all, titles by many writers. (That holds true of our stock in general. While our small shop holds about 3,500 titles, our inventory of more than 10,000 books is accessible.)
One thing we’ve learned in the last five years is that big name authors don’t need booksellers like us hand selling their titles. If you’re wondering, I’ve never recommended a book by James Patterson, nor do I ever expect to.
What we will continue to do is introduce many wonderful Maine crime writers to readers both from here and away.
Mainely Murders Bookstore, owned by Paula Keeney and Ann Whetstone, is located at 1 Bourne Street, Kennebunk, ME 04043. To subscribe to our monthly e-mail newsletter, visit www.mainelymurders.com.