Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge closed on Saturday. Kate Mattes held an event with an army of volunteers who helped pack the place up. I stopped by and chatted briefly with Kate, who told me she plans to spend the next year or so getting her enormous inventory properly cataloged online, as well as digitizing two decades worth of book reviews. Then she may look around for a new bricks-and-mortar location if the conditions are right. In the meantime she will continue to hold author events, and her web site is still around.
It goes without saying that the city is a duller place this morning without Kate’s. Of course any number of bookshops have closed the last few years, but this loss feels particularly sad. I never knew the shop especially well, but it seemed like one of those places. It had the patina of years, and a community of readers had sprung up around it. Places like that can’t be replaced or recreated, least of all by a website.
But there’s no use sighing over the blandification of Cambridge, where a funky overstuffed bookstore in an old rambling red Victorian once would have seemed right at home. Or the general extinction of bookstores run by real, live book lovers. Things change. It sucks, but what can you do?
So I will just thank Kate for supporting me from the day my first book arrived and hand-selling my books ever since. I’m sure there is a marching band of writers out there who feel the same way. Thank you, Kate. We’ll see you around.