Outside of the great bookstores in my beloved Minnesota, there’s only one store at which I’ve signed for every single novel I’ve written—the Mystery Book Store in Omaha. Owner Kate Birkel began the store in 1995, and now, after more than twenty years, Kate is preparing to close her doors. Urban renewal is the culprit and who can fight city hall?
Kate and I go way back. The first signing I did as a published author was at Kate’s store. We were both new enough to the business that neither of us had any idea where an author was supposed to put the inscription and signature. So from her shelf Kate pulled a signed edition of a novel by Miriam Grace Monfredo and opened it up. Ah, the title page, of course!
Like many a bookseller, Kate has survived by the skin of her teeth. But she’s had a loyal clientele, folks who’ve attended all the signings, including mine, so that I’ve come to know them pretty well.
Kate’s planning on closing the store this fall, on September 30. I’m not letting her go quietly into retirement. I had already set up a signing at the Mystery Book Store for my next novel, Manitou Canyon, on September 17, the store’s last official author event. I’ve decided to use the occasion to throw Kate a “Goodbye and Thank You” celebration.
Consider this an invitation to attend. If you’re an alumnus of Mayhem in the Midlands, the wonderful Omaha mystery conference (now defunct) where Kate sold books, a long-time customer, a friend of independent bookstores, or just someone looking for a good time, I’d love to see you there, to help celebrate the spirit of independent booksellers everywhere, and of Kate Birkel in particular.