Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Bookseller's Advice to Authors: A Visit with the Poisoned Pen Bookstore


Jenn McKinlay


One of my very favorite places inmy neighborhood is the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ When I moved to Arizona in 1992, it was one of the first places I visited and came to be the place I frequently brought out of town guests to visit, well, after a pop in at the iconic Sugar Bowl, which is right down the street.

As an aspiring writer, I dreamed of one day signing at the Poisoned Pen. While I suffered years of rejection, the Pen was a place I would visit to be inspired. It's shelves are full to bursting with books, the staff always knows exactly what book you need to read when you need to read it, and hanging from the ceilings are dozens and dozens of portraits of visiting authors, smiling down at you in a most engaging way. 

The driving force behind the famous bookstore is Barbara Peters. Full disclosure, when I first met Barbara I was terrified of her. To begin with she holds a BA from Stanford, an MA from Northwestern and an MSLS from the University of Tennessee. She founded the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in 1989 and it is now, and has been for a long while, one of the world's largest mystery-centric bookstores. Together with her husband Rob Rosenwald, they have been recipients of the Raven Award from the Mystery Writer's of America and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bouchercon, the annual mystery writers conference. She is charming and engaging, no question, but she is formidably brilliant (librarian!), reads voraciously, seriously, I think she reads over a hundred books per month or is that per week, and has traveled the world extensively, next stop Peru!


Jenn reading her dedication to Barbara
Luckily, since my first mystery published in 2009, I have signed at the Pen at least twenty-five times (I'm going for the record of person who has signed there the most) and Barbara has become a very dear friend. In fact, I dedicated my book At the Drop of a Hat to Barbara and the staff of the Pen, which, for all that they do, should really have been entitled --A Tip of the Brim.

When I was invited to blog with Jungle Red (thank you, ladies) I knew that one of the very first posts I would do would be an interview with Barbara. Some might think it is revenge for all of the times she's had me in the hot seat. You would be right! Without further ado, I give you my QandA with Barbara Peters, Bookseller Extraordinaire.
         
1. What was the impetus for opening a mystery bookstore? 
On the fatal day when my new husband Robert Rosenwald (little did he know where it would lead) said to me, "Now that you can do whatever you want, what is it you are going to do?" I replied, I'd like to go back to books. To Rob that meant I'd return to the Library of Congress where I'd been a librarian in its fast track to the top Intern Program (now defunct) and he said, I am not moving to DC. So I said, "Ok, a little bookstore." Drawing from my law background I knew a specialty was the key in the face of the rise of BN and Borders, both huge in Phoenix, so I thought, a mystery bookstore would be fun. In truth I'm a romance history and biography reader as much as a mystery fan, but mystery was just too cool to resist. Besides in 1989 there was a whole community of mystery bookstores which, sadly, is now gone. The Pen has become a bookstore for fiction, and whatever else we like. 

2. What advice would you offer a new author on their first book tour?

Rhys and Barbara in hats!
Assuming it's been arranged by the publisher, email ahead to offer information, a short statement about your book and why you wrote it. Ask what time you should arrive. Be on time. Dress appropriately (seriously, you'd be amazed how many do not). Prepare a short pitch for your book. Reply to questions cheerfully, not contentiously. It can get personal sometimes, you never know, but don't let it get to you. Bring a pen. Fans might like little promo items but most bookstores haven't got room to display them and don't want to keep track of them, so don't go crazy with bookmarks, etc. Leave your email address with the store and/or cell phone in case follow up is needed. If you have any serious complaints, tell your publicist but don't air them on social media.   

3. You've seen a lot of authors break out. What similarities have you seen amongst them?
Sadly it's often a function of whether your publisher is sold on your book (ie did your editor pitch it well to sales?) and thus devoted promo bucks to you. You can never discount the effect of serious publisher push. You can't discount the role of luck either: your topic got hot; someone influential liked your book. Series can gain momentum; a first book can make a small dent but then it builds. Perseverance and patience in building is a key. Another today is social media; how well can you use it? And how often is the author out and visible? Personality, the ability to perform, can propel careers. BUT for me, it's all about your voice, how well you tell your story, your enthusiasm for your work. If an author writes well and believes in the work, the odds rise. It's all very mysterious and a writer is both in charge of his destiny and at the mercy of factors beyond control and unforeseen (like the books that got dumped after 9/11 made them irrelevant). 
Hank at the Pen with CJ Box and  Linwood Barclay

A great example of an author with faith in his work is Craig Johnson. His first book got attention, but hey, it featured a Wyoming Sheriff in a small county. Viking sent Craig to The Poisoned Pen on a small tour. His second book, no tour so Craig asked if he could still come and he rode his motorcycle to Scottsdale. It took the two of us, him determined to showcase his work, me happy to cooperate. Book three might have been Viking, might have been The Pen paying. And then, here's the luck factor, TV came along and now he's a bestseller. 

4. What do you see for the future of brick and mortar bookstores?

Ingrid in the hot seat!
Bright. Digital sales are dropping, print sales rising. 2016, more print books sold than digital. Recent Book of the Month club reporting said a significant percentage of its 70% women members were readers in their 20s and 30s. Bookstores are a place to experience, to browse and make serendipitous finds, and for community. It's a safe night or afternoon out to attend a function or just browse. It's a parent/child bonding place as well as a date place. Every bookstore is different, and reflects its location, its staff, and its community. Many of those that crashed in the wake of the now imperiled BN model were not businesses but hobbies so one positive of more competition online and brick and mortar is that bookstores have to be better run as a business.

5. And lastly because you own the Poisoned Pen Press, as well, what makes you buy a book from a new author?

Voice. I can fix anything else but if you are boring, or offensive, I can't help you.


JENN: And the answer to that last question is one of the many reasons, I adore Barbara.  She cracks me up!


Every month, the Poisoned Pen sends out a postcard of upcoming events (see picture) and note two of our very own Reds are coming to town -- Deborah on Feb 18 and Rhys on Mar 1. To sign up for their mailer or to order autographed books from your favorite authors, visit: https://poisonedpen.com



And now, Reds, tell us what's your favorite bookstore? Do you go to author events? And if you have a question for Barbara, ask away! One lucky commenter will win this snazzy Poisoned Pen tote bag!


78 comments:

  1. What a wonderful interview. I’d love to browse in Barbara’s store.
    I am in serious envy of anyone who lives within a reasonable distance of a bookshop. Sad to say, our local bookshop closed several years ago, relegating me to browsing through a couple of shelves in the local Target or driving forty-five miles [one way] to wander through Barnes and Noble. I guess I’m just a reader in desperate need of a bookshop . . . .

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  2. Thanks for bringing Barbara to us! My publisher doesn't send me on tour alas - but I always add, "yet" - things could change. Barbara, do you host authors who get themselves to Scottsdale on their own dimes?

    I'm blessed with a fabulous local indy bookstore, Jabberwocky Books, in Newburyport, MA. Hank has been there several times, and Debs came once - any other Reds I have missed? (Hallie, you should come up.) I have my launch parties there (save the date - April 7 - for the next one, where my two alter-egos are going to interview each other...), and I order my books from them instead of from Amazon.

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  3. I don't comment here often, but I read Jungle Reds every day. However, The Poisoned Pen is my very favorite bookstore ever, ever. I live in Central Texas, but we plan vacations to Phoenix/Scottsdale area around the PP and who might be visiting. I've seen lots of great authors there. And got to attend Left Coast Crime last year and see even more PP authors around. I've met Barbara more than once and she is delightful and welcoming. The Poisoned Pen has some wonderful book clubs you can join and receive books (many signed) at your home. I've carried my PP bag all over the place and gotten many questions about the store. Can you tell I'm a big fan? Now, Barbara, what about opening a 2nd location in Texas?? Ha!

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    1. You can not only meet fabulous authors at "The Pen" but wonderful readers like Kay, too. Kay and I have met at the bookstore to buy our stacks of books, and she's the one who nudged me into attending LCC last year.

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  4. Kay, we're so glad you commented on this one!

    I have not been to the PP bookstore--need to fix that! But I sure can relate to the Craig Johnson story--this business takes persistence in every form...

    Edith, I also have a great bookstore in my town in CT, RJ Julia--I think I've signed there 14 times, a piker next to Jenn! And we now have 2 bookstores in Key West--thank goodness. It was so sad when they began to drop like flies. I love this new upswing. Thanks for visiting Barbara!

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  5. The Poisoned Pen was my first and most immediate stop when I visited Arizona. And it was everything I could have hoped and more.

    I love independent bookstores. Later this Spring I will be going to Nashville and will finally get to experience Parnassus Books. I can't wait!

    As for other favorites, being from Baltimore, I love The Ivy Bookshop, A Likely Story, One More Page Books, Politics and Prose, and of course, Mystery Loves Company.

    Even before the days of my book blog, all of these places took plenty of my money - and I gave it willingly - as the rewards far outweigh the sacrifice.

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  7. Barbara and Rob--are so astonishingly brilliant, so educated and incredibly savvy… I agree, it can be a bit intimidating. But they are both absolute sweethearts, and that is such a joy. Barbara is so glamorous! And Rob is a genius cook. They know their stuff, through and through, but my overwhelming image of them is just that they are incredibly generous. What a difference they have made in so many peoples' lives! And Barbara took the best picture of me and Rhys I have ever seen… I'm putting it up on Rhys' launch day.

    Around here, Brookline Booksmith is where I always have my book parties, what a terrific and vibrant Bookstore. They have also asked me to host several other authors, as interviewer, when they come to town, and that is so marvelous!

    I have always been fascinated by what it would be like to be the one to choose the books for the bookstore.HOW would you know? And then hand selling, which is, again, life-changing for an author. Standing ovation for all.

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  8. Like the independent bookstores and like the author events when I can get to them.

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  9. How is it that I've been to Phoenix and Scottsdale a dozen times, but have not yet been to the Poisoned Pen? Serious oversight on the part of my hosts! One of whom is a big mystery fan, too. Next time I'm there I'll have to drag her to the store.

    In Cincinnati we are fortunate to still have some good independents: Joseph Beth, one on each side of the Ohio; Blue Manatee for children in Cincinnati, and Blue Marble, also for kids, just over the river in Kentucky. Plus, we still have a couple of B&Ns left on both sides. JoBeth is not as book-centric as it used to be; however, their children's department, especially in the Cincinnati store, is a store in its own right. We do well by kid readers here, at least.

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  10. Kay and Kristopher - I love that you plan trips around bookshops! I do, too! No trip back to CT is complete without a pop in at RJ Julia in Madison.

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  11. Joan - that would be very difficult for me. I feel for you.

    Edith - so wonderful that you have Jabberwocky Books. Your upcoming alter ego interview sounds like fun!

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  12. LOVE Poisoned Pen -- I went there on my very first book tour and they graciously promoted the book for which I am eternally grateful. Barbara Peters is my hero!

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  13. In New England we had a few mystery bookstores but they have all closed. Locally we had a very nice bookstore called Toadstool. It's a wonderful independent store with great employees.
    I love going to author events when I can. It's great getting to meet new authors and authors that I've met before. When I'm unable to go to an event, due to my schedule or because of distance, I will call and order signed books. I love the feel of a physical book and I love and cherish my signed books. I hope someday to be able to visit the Poisoned Pen. It sounds like a wonderful store.
    My question is: what is the best thing about owning a mystery bookstore and what is the hardest thing?

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  14. Wonderful interview. I've read so many wonderful stories from so many people who have been to the Poisoned Pen. I want to hop a plane to AZ just to go there! Sadly, we no longer have a local bookstore. :-( But I do drive over and hour and a half to a B&N in Salisbury, MD, and make a day trip of it. My sisters and I are in there for hours! Thay haven't had an author event with any authors I know, but the moment they do, I'm there!

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  15. Great interview.

    For me, it's Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA - a suburb of Pittsburgh. Literally five minutes from my house. I dream of the day when my launch is there. The store has changed has a couple times from its original owners, but the young couple who owns it now are wonderful. Yes I go to author events, much to my husband's dismay at how many books are piling up in the house. Hey, he buys khaki pants, I buy books. I say I'm ahead.

    Pittsburgh is seeing something of a renaissance in indy bookstores. I think we've got 3 or 4 of them now (Mystery Lovers is the only "specialty" store though, the others are general).

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  16. Good morning. Jenn asked me to drop by. Thank you for all the comments, and for supporting independent bookstores. Each store is unique a product of its staff and its community. Ours is unusual in that Scottsdale is a big tourist destination so from October 3, 1989, more people walked in the door who live elsewhere than here, which is how we built up to such a big on line community. I probably send out of 100K words a month to customers and write much more in other communications. And I work full time (having a 40 hour day every day) editing... and since our entire Poisoned Pen Press fall list has to go to the sales team by tonight this is all I can say.... Best wishes to all, Barbara

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  17. Hi, Barbara,
    Thanks for popping in! You know, people tell me I'm a workaholic because I write 4-5 books per year but then I look at Barbara's schedule and I feel like an absolute slacker. I don't know how she does it! I will be popping in at the Pen to see Debs on Sat the 18th and Rhys on Wed the 1st. Any excuse to visit the Pen!

    Hey, here's an idea -- maybe we need to have a Reds book tour where we all go on a book signing junket to indie bookstores all over the U.S., starting with the Poisoned Pen. Who's with me?

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    1. Looks like I'll be seeing you Saturday, Jenn-- and I love your idea about the Jungle Reds tour!

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    2. Yay! I haven't seen you in ages! We're overdue for a catch up!

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  18. Very good interview/article. Loved the store when I lived in AZ I now live in MO and have a couple of small local new/used book stores and a very nice BN to frequent but I still miss Poisoned Pen...

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    1. Joanie - You're the winner of the tote bag! Email me (jennmck@yahoo.com) your address and I'll pop it in the mail to you! Congrats!

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  19. Mary -

    I love Mystery Lover's Bookshop in Oakmont. I signed there once about four years ago - delightful place. I visited the library there, too. Fantastic building.

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  20. Lisa K - you should come visit. We'll go on a cupcake tour and then hit the Pen :) A perfect day!

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  21. Great interview. Wish i lived closer would love to visit this bookstore.
    Diane Rivera
    quickchangeus@yahoo.com

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  22. Karen - Glad to hear they're starting them young in Cincinnati! Access to books is so critical to developing life long learners.

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  23. There's a little book store in my small town, a sweet lady 86 years old owns it. She's a retired teacher and fun to talk to. Two stray cats live there and greet you. An old building with creaky floors and tons of books. She teaches knitting and sells yarn too. My favorite place to be besides the library.

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    1. Ooooh...books and knitting-- my two passions! I'd love to visit.

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  24. I went to Appleton to see Debbie mc combers. What a interesting person, I got her autograph too.

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  25. I love independent bookstores, and I always try to support them. I have attended author events at the two bookstores near me - B & N and Half Price Books. I really wish we had a mystery bookstore here in the DFW area. Anytime I am in Houston I always stop at Murder By The Book. I hope to travel to Scottsdale this year and visit Poisoned Pen for the first time.

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  26. Jenn, I'm trying to think. Four years meant you visited the library post-renovation I think. It is a wonderfully historic building.

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  27. One if the things I enjoy mist about spending the winter in Phoenix is having lunch with Barbara, dropping in to the Pen for fellow authors. She always has great insights into what is going on in the mystery world.... Okay, she dishes great gossip too, which I love!
    Barbara is the energizer bunny on steroids. She is always doing twenty things then flying off to another part of the world. Last year she was on the first cruise to attempt the Northwest Passage!
    She runs the store, interviews the guests (and how fun and different that is from the usual book signing. We usually wind up completely off topic!) and edits for her press. One PPP writer told me she learned how to write a mystery through Barbara's edits

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  28. I would love to visit The Poisoned Pen Bookstore -- it sounds wonderful. We have a great independent book store here in Aspen called Explore Booksellers, and it even has a restaurant upstairs. I love any author events -- tomorrow Robert Wagner will be there to discuss and sign his new book I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES - very Aspen-y. (I loved him in The Pink Panther and the Austin Powers' movies!)

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  29. I go to Murder By The Book, in the Rice Village, in Houston, Texas. I don't go as often now due to no longer working out there. But I still keep reading the newsletter & trying to go often. I would love to check out Poison Pen sometime. I may have to plan a road trip out there, sounds like a fun place to go. Thank you for the giveaway.
    daw655(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  30. I'm so jealous! I'd love to go to this store or have a store like that around me.

    Yes, here in LA county, we no longer have any mystery bookstores. The closest to me is an hour+ drive away. I miss going to author signings. I found many a favorite author by attending the signing of a book that sounded interesting. That used to be how they'd cross my radar.

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  31. Oh, my gosh-what a great idea, Jenn! I am totally up for the Reds tour...xoxoo

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  32. Poisoned Pen is an amazing bookstore, for writers and readers alike. I feel so fortunate that my tours take me there and that I've had the opportunity to spend time with Barbara. She is inspiring because she always seems to be cooking up a new idea, which makes me think about what I could be doing differently. There's no box big enough to hold her ideas!

    In the Seattle area we're blessed with great bookstores, and two of my favorites are the Seattle Mystery Bookshop in Pioneer Square and Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, on the Olympic Peninsula. The SMB hosts so many great mystery writers and are champions at hand-selling. Liberty Bay is incredibly welcoming and situated in a picturesque downtown area. Both places are definitely worth a visit!

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  33. Thanks, I enjoyed reading this! I knew I had to visit The Poisoned Pen when I first moved to AZ 5 years ago because Diana Gabaldon listed it as her personal bookstore! I'm so glad I came in because I've found so many more favorite authors from signings held at the store! (Cough Jenn McKinlay Cough)

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  34. Love The Poisoned Pen!! My husband travels about 2 weeks a month. We have a special needs son and I get no respite when hubby travels. When hubs is in town, I'll escape to Scottsdale for a night or two, usually planned around an author signing at the Pen!

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  35. Thank God for Barbara. That's all I have to say. (except, you're pretty fine yourself, Jenn)

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  36. Books of Wonder in Manhattan is my all time favorite bookstore!
    The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable.
    I saw/heard a woman say, "My ___year old nephew loves to read. I know he enjoyed x, y, and z books. Can you suggest others he might like?"? And because they all read tons of the books, the clerk knew exactly what to suggest.

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  37. Bookshop Santa Cruz in (you guessed it, Santa Cruz, CA) is terrific. And after the big earthquake of 1989 destroyed their building, they erected an enormous tent on their parking lot and temporarily changed their name to Booktent Santa Cruz. That's perseverance.

    Would love, love to visit the Poisoned Pen; have to get my butt down to Scottsdale one of these days! Thank you Barbara, for all you do!

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    1. Yes, you should and then we can go drink margaritas or whiskey sours or whatever ;)

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  39. JennDian, How wonderful that the Poisoned Pen and beautiful Scottsdale provide you with a bit of a respite. It's such a lovely thought that both places are restorative!

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  40. I love the Poisoned Pen! And have been there every time I'm on vacation in the Phoenix area (we stay at the Arizona Biltmore so I have many reasons to love the area... including an obligatory trip to Arcosanti to buy bells). I'm currently on a half day break during my 14 city tour - wondering why I didn't pack spring clothes even though it's still February. When I get home I think I have a box of books from the Poisoned Pen to sign.... so I really can't say thank you enough to all that Barbara and the store does. I'll have to schedule a trip out soon and stop by (frequent flyer ticket is calling my name).

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    1. Congrats on the release of your book, Tracee! Tell us more!

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  41. Before I lived in Portland OR, I was in southern California, and had a very nice small specialty bookstore nearby, The Book Carnival. I attended many signings there, always a treat. Also at that time I was a newsletter subscriber and telephone / online buyer from Poisoned Pen. I finally had a chance to visit in 2008, and the store is just as great as everyone has said. One of the things I'd like to particularly thank Poisoned Pen Press for is publishing the BRITISH LIBRARY CRIME CLASSICS books. They're wonderful. Thank you, Barbara.

    Now in Portland, there is, of course, Powell's Bookstore, which isn't a mystery specialty store but is wonderful nonetheless. On my small fixed pension, I must admit that these days my most frequently visited "book store" is the library. As wonderful as book stores are, and as new physical books are, thank goodness for libraries! I do buy some new books, maybe a couple dozen a year if that, but the rest come from the library, and they are just as nice and helpful there as many book stores.

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  42. I love Murder by the Book here in Houston. I know several of you Reds have been here. I get MBTB's emails about events, book raves, etc. I've discovered several authors I really like thanks to them. I don't go to many talks/signings anymore because the parking around there is god awful, which they'll be the first to admit!
    Pat D

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  43. If my computer is working, then let's see if I can post a question here.

    Is Poisoned Pen bookstore within walking distance from Westin Kierland hotel? I will be there for a conference and I will not have a car. I would love to visit PP. If it is too far to walk, then can I take a taxi or cab from the hotel?

    One of my favorite indie bookstores is a very small bookstore in Montclair Village called Great Place for Books. Another favorite is Book Passage even if they gave out my email to other writing conference attendees without my permission ;-/ We have Books Inc., which has several stores including one or two at San Francisco International Airport, Mrs. Dalloway Bookstore on College Avenue, Orinda Books in Orinda, among several others. There was a wonderful children's bookstore in Lafayette. Not sure if it is still there.

    When I travel, I like to seek out indie bookstores if I can find them. Someone mentioned a bookstore in Nashville. If this person is looking for a great coffeehouse and is allergic to cigarette smoking, then Fido's is a great place - no smoking allowed!

    Visited Powell's Books, which was a big maze of bookshelves, for me! That was in Portland, Oregon. Loved Politics and Prose in Washington, DC.

    There was a small bookstore in Winnetka, though it was closed when we stopped by.

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    1. Poisoned Pen is in the "downtown" area of Scottsdale, about 10 mi. south of the Westin Kierland. Taxi or Uber. Well worth it! If you go at breakfast or lunch time, Arcadia Farms is a great little restaurant a few blocks from Poisoned Pen.

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  44. Bib-li-o-phile - sadly, no, it's not walkable. You're several miles N. Scottsdale does have a free trolly service, however, that runs every 15 min. Not sure if there is a pick up near you but your hotel will know. And, OMG, I've only been to Powell's once but I could have stayed for days!

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  45. Donis - I'm doing a blog over the weekend about titles. I already told Barbara that I'm including yours because you really do have the best titles (and mysteries)!

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  46. We don't have much of bookstore Walmart target regular stores

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  47. I forgot to say in my earlier comment that my area of Texas has Book People, a wonderful independent bookstore. Sadly, it's quite a trek to central Austin for me these days, so I don't make it to author events very often. We also lived in Portland for a few years and Powell's - well, I pretty much thought I had died and gone to book heaven. Now if I can just get my hubby to move to Scottsdale! Ha!

    Jenn, I used your cupcake book, BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF, as a Valentine's Day card on my blog yesterday. Hope to get to see you at the PP at some point. Think I said hello at LCC last year.

    https://kaysreadinglife.blogspot.com/2017/02/tuesday-first-chapter-first-paragraph.html

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  48. I'm one of the fabulously fortunate people who can go to The Poisoned Pen any time I like. (Well... most of the time anyway!) There's so much I could say about Barbara and her bookstore, but I'll limit myself to two:

    (1) The Poisoned Pen averages over 200 author events each year, so people like me can be spoiled for choice. What's so marvelous about these events is their diversity. You don't just see the Big Stars; you can also attend an event for a fledgling author's very first book, and that can be such a treat.

    (2) Barbara is my hero.

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  49. I'm so excited to see this post about The Poisoned Pen. It's top on my list of places to visit when I get to Arizona to visit a friend of mine. I keep in touch with this wonderful place now through my friend Lesa's blogging for the store. I can't wait to meet Barbara for myself. This interview was lovely.

    I'm off to meet Tracee de Hahn later at our local Books a Million store, where she will be signing copies of her debut novel, Swiss Vendetta (featured here on the blog). I loved the book and hope that Barbara will read it, if she hasn't already. I only hope that Tracee find her way to The Poisoned Pen where she would experience a book signing and author event in the best possible fashion. I don't have a lot of faith in chain store book promotions. I will do my part and cover it and post it on my reading blog though.

    Jenn, thank you for bringing Barbara and the Poisoned Pen to us today! All my favorite authors have events there and like everyone else, they rave about it to no end.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy! And how exciting for Tracee!

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  50. Due to the fact that I really don't have any independent type bookstores close enough to me that I can shop there, I basically have just Barnes and Noble unless I order online which doesn't count as a "book store" I know. I've shopped at three B&N shops and they are all fine experiences overall.

    I don't have any mystery specific stores near me here in Massachusetts. Heck, as far as I know the nearest one to me is four hours away in Vermont. I'm kind of envious of those people who get to shop at Poisoned Pen, Once Upon A Crime and the Seattle Mystery Book Shop.

    As for whether or not I attend book signings, the answer is yes. However, I'm far more limited in my options than others might be.

    I've attended multiple signings for Jon Land, including a couple that had another author as well (Gary Braver and then most recently Heather Graham)

    I've had the supreme pleasure of attending TWO Ingrid Thoft signings including one that yielded an article for a website that I wrote for at the time. And for those who haven't read Ingrid's latest book Duplicity, get on that immediately. It is one of the best PI novels I've ever read.

    I've also been to a bunch of signings for Hank Phillippi Ryan. The most recent was a dual appearance with Ingrid Thoft with a special audience member appearance from Hallie Ephron. Hank was also kind enough to sit for what was my first ever attempt at an interview and shockingly, it came out pretty well. (Probably the first time I'd done homework in preparation for anything since high school).

    Unfortunately, that's it for signings. I'd love to get to meet more of the authors I love (C.J. Box and John Sandford come to mind) but all those big book conventions seem to steer clear of coming to Boston...FOR SHAME!

    And Jenn McKinlay, thanks for this article, it was quite an entertaining and informative read.

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  51. Jay, you're so kind and such a great cheerleader! I hope that "Mystery Scene" is going to publishing more of your reviews!

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    1. Ingrid, love being a cheerleader for your books. And according to a pic that Atria Mystery Bus tweeted to me I've got at least one new review in the new issue of Mystery Scene.

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  52. i would love to visit this place. I personally enjoy hanging out in a bookstore. I enjoy reading print books more the e books. I really enjoyed this interview.

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  53. I don't have any independent book stores near me so that leaves me shopping at Barnes and Noble. I would love to shop at Poisoned Pen. I can only imagine all the new (new to me) authors I could discover. I'm always on the lookout for new books. Now I need to trip to Phoenix. Thank you for this.

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  54. I hope visit this store someday! I live in NC but follow this store on Facebook & instagram. Jenn McKinlay brought my attention to the store through her posts. What a cool store!!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! I never know if my posts do any good - yay!

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  55. There are not many book stores around me anymore. I venture to Barnes and noble for my books. I would love to be able to meet some of my favorite and new authors,but there doesn't seem to be any that ever come in my area. But that hasn't stopped me from spending hours at a time finding the perfect book to read. I wish we had a place like The Poisoned Pen here, but then again I would never want to leave ;)

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  56. Oh, I sooooooo need a road trip to Scotsdale.... immediately! Maybe she rents out rooms above so we can rest between shopping days?

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  57. I don't get to many bookstores. My favorite in the valley is First Draft Book Bar. I have met the powers behind the poison pen at the Avondale Writer's Conference a few years ago.

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  58. Thanks for sharing ... makes me want to "road trip" it to Scottsdale (from Atlanta!) ... wow, wonder how many bookstores along the way. I really like any "cozy" bookstore. The big box stores just feel like a place to purchase books while a more intimate store offers a place to share, socialize, network and learn as well. It just makes it more personal. I do like book signings for my faves ... I do get star struck however ��. My question for Barbara is ... what (if there is one) is the difference between a mystery and a suspense thriller?

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  59. Getting over to PP again is on my to do list. and I'd love to go to the mystery bookstore in Houston some time when we're there.

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  60. Everyone needs a town with a knowledgeable librarian! My small town does not have a bookstore. In the next town, Border Books closed a few years ago and all that is left is a B and N. But we have a nice library with helpful, knowledgeable people. My kids went to story hour when they were little and have library cards!! I enjoyed reading the questions and answers in this post!

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  61. The Poison Pen sounds fabulous. My favorite bookstore is Powells in Portland Oregon. I could get lost in there for days. I've been to quite a few author signings. I think it's fun to meet the people who so richly bless our lives.

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  62. We have a local mystery book store that I like to frequent. Sometimes they have guest authors spotlighted. It's always fun to go to an event.

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  63. Hi. My favorite bookstore is ANY now these days! Snazzy tote bag. I would enjoy this prize

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