Murder Ink to shut its doors

When Murder Ink opened its doors on the Upper West side in 1972, it paved territory that had never been paved before by being the first independent mystery bookstore. In 34 years, the store – first owned by Dilys Winn, now by Jay Pearsall – has served loyal mail-order customers and walk-ins alike, tried out a second branch in Lower Manhattan (that shut after a few years), opened up a general fiction shop, Ivy’s, next door, and carried on handselling an assortment of mystery titles and related gift items through many management and personnel changes.

And after December 31, it will be no more. Gus, the Gryphon who makes his home shuttling between Murder Ink and its sister literary bookstore Ivy’s, will have to find a new home, a new floor to sleep on. The reason? What befalls many indies these days, especially in New York: they just couldn’t keep up with the rent, especially as sales continue to plummet.

I would be remiss in not revealing my mixed feelings about Murder Ink’s imminent closing. I worked at Partners, I adore Black Orchid, and admire Mysterious Bookshop for what they do and how well they do it. Murder Ink was my neighborhood bookstore, but one I hadn’t been going to much of late. For me, it wasn’t the same after Tom Cushman stopped being its manager, but I always assumed it would still be around. A dangerous assumption, as it turns out.

News like this makes the essay I linked to yesterday by McNally-Robinson’s Jessica Stockton even more required reading. Fortunately, New York’s mystery independents already share a fair degree of mutual friendship and respect, but there’s always room for more. Because after the 31st, there will no longer be four. Will it stop at just three?