The mystery genre has faced a number of tragic losses in recent months. We will see no new books from Robert B. Parker. We will have a much harder time finding Waldenbooks or Borders Express stores. And now, we will never be able to buy another book from The Mystery Company. That means something to me because this particular independent bookstore was the first to order my novel Blood and Bone. On a less personal note, Jim Huang was a great friend of mystery writers.
Don’t know Jim Huang? Then you probably didn’t attend Bouchercon 2009, which Jim worked hard on. Nor did you attend the smaller but equally fun Magna Cum Murder mystery conference in Muncie, which Jim helped to organize. Jim ran The Mystery Company in Carmel, Indiana for seven years until he was forced to close its doors in the last few days. For those seven years Jim Huang was a great friend to mystery authors and a voice of reason in the industry. His love of the genre was evident, as was his leadership among the small fraternity of mystery booksellers.
The store’s closing had nothing to do with Jim’s business acumen, level of effort or determination. I’m sure it had everything to do with the economic downturn, the consumer shift to online shopping, the huge discounts big book retailers can offer, and the slow but steady growth of e-books which cuts the brick-and-mortar retailer out of the sale entirely. In other words, the loss of The Mystery Company is a symptom of what’s happening in the industry in general.
My understanding is that Jim hasn’t abandoned book selling, but that in a few days he will be managing a college bookstore - at Kenyon College in Ohio to be exact. We wish him the best.I know that Jim gave The Mystery Company everything he had. More to the point, he gave mystery writers and their work everything he had. I hope he maintains a presence at conventions and conferences, and I look forward to shaking his hand again at a future event and thanking him for his years of support.