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Westwood’s Mystery Bookstore celebrates anniversary

By Machiko Yasuda

Oct. 25, 2009 10:24 p.m.

Twelve-year-old Zachary Faulk made sure every word of his conversation with children’s science fiction writer Frank Beddor was recorded.

Zachary jumped around the Mystery Bookstore on Broxton Avenue, browsing shelves and befriending fellow fans. At an author table nearby, his father purchased a signed edition of the latest book in Beddor’s series for him.

The signing kicked off the all-day event, celebrating the Mystery Bookstore’s first anniversary under new ownership.

The last remaining bookstore in Westwood Village has continued to draw loyal customers and visiting authors for the past 12 years, said Bobby McCue, manager of the Mystery Bookstore.

For the Faulks, the anniversary celebration started early in the morning with a three-hour drive from Hanford to Westwood. It was Zachary’s reward for finishing his school project the night before.

The trip wasn’t the first for Zachary’s father, Maurice Faulk, who first visited the Broxton store years ago when he came to meet thriller author David Morrell ““ a writer he had read during his military stay in Saudi Arabia and had even corresponded with by letter.

“I’ve got a lot (of books) in my collection from this store,” Faulk said. “It’s personalized for me, and I’ll pass them onto my sons. Hopefully they’ll get into them and pass them on.”

Beddor, a local children’s science fiction author, was one of seven writers at the Mystery Bookstore’s celebration, in a lineup that included national bestseller Michael Connelly and local crime writer James Ellroy.

Carts full of preordered books crowded the small store, as shoppers enjoyed complimentary Stan’s Donuts from down the street and browsed through shelves of books.

The occasion caught the eye of Westwood residents unfamiliar with the store, like graduate student Luis Alvarez, who recently moved to the area.

“I found it really strange when I got here because there were no bookstores,” Alvarez said.

For others, like Edward Purcell, the bookstore is a way to return to a college-town atmosphere and enjoy the sense of community that goes along with it. Purcell has frequented the Mystery Bookstore since its earlier days in West Hollywood, and he still comes back for its events.

“Even though I can sometimes buy books for cheaper at chain stores, the selection here is specialized,” said Purcell, a Santa Monica resident and UCLA alumnus.

Beddor said the economic climate and new competition from movies and video games has made it difficult for authors and booksellers to attract readers in recent years.

“One of the ways to get kids reading is to make a personal connection,” said Beddor, who regularly collaborates with the Mystery Bookstore to speak to local middle schoolers. “So you separate yourself from everything else, and they have this relationship with you.”

For Beddor, encouraging new readers and independent bookstore customers also comes in the form of visual media. He promotes card games and graphic novels inspired by his characters.

Although competition has forced many bookstores to shut their doors, McCue is confident the Mystery Bookstore will make it.

“We’ll survive,” he said. “We’ll be one of the last remaining bastions that are still around. The icon, we hope.”

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Machiko Yasuda
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