August 03, 2005

There's good news for mystery lovers in the founding of Felony & Mayhem Press, dedicated to publishing new editions of books that have gone out of print. Their first dozen volumes are an appealing group (and I would particularly recommend David Carkeet's Double Negative, a charming comedy about a linguist whose theories on early-childhood communication are put to the test when a pre-verbal toddler is the only witness to a murder).

But there's bad news, too; Maggie Topkis, founder of Felony & Mayhem, has decided to sell her books only to independent bookstores, so you won't be able to find them at Borders, Barnes & Noble, or any of the other chains which are the only bookstores available in a lot of places. (Oddly enough, though, they are available at

It is an article of faith among a lot of bookish people that independent bookstores are better than the chains, and I've never understood why. I've yet to find an indie that can match my local B&N on price, selection, or customer service, and my local indie -- a store called Book Soup -- has a stellar reputation as one of the best indie stores in Los Angeles. That reputation perplexes me, as I've always found the store to be cramped, poorly organized, and weak in selection (with the exception of their newsstand, which has a better selection of magazines than the local chains).

Why any publisher would deliberately refuse business from any customer, but especially potentially large customers, is a puzzle to me, and I fear that Felony & Mayhem won't stay in business long with so foolish a policy. That would be a shame, because they're providing a valuable service.

(As a librarian, I wonder if F&M's books will be available through the wholesalers from whom most public libraries buy their books, or if those large companies will be equally unacceptable as customers.)

1 comment:

David Carkeet said...

I appreciate the nice words about DOUBLE NEGATIVE. Felony & Mayhem has indeed done a nice job with these books. For anyone interested, I have a new memoir coming out that in its own way is as odd as DOUBLE NEGATIVE, titled CAMPUS SEXPOT. For info go to