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Book 'Em Mysteries in South Pasadena is closing after 24 years

Jimmy Carter

Book 'Em Mysteries in South Pasadena will close its doors April 30 after 24 years in business. On Tuesday it began its going-out-of-business sale, marking down the remaining 7,000 books in stock. The furniture and fixtures are also for sale.

Mary Riley and Barry Martin were married to other people when they teamed up to open the shop in 1990. After each of their spouses passed away, Riley and Martin became a couple themselves. They lived together for 15 years before getting married. They held the wedding ceremony in the bookstore.

For each bookstore closure, there are lamentations about the death of book culture. But Book 'Em may simply have run its course as a small business. "We wanted to retire into something," Riley told the Times in 2011. That retirement business lasted for more than two decades.

Before running a bookstore Riley taught students in kindergarten through third grade. Martin was a TV producer. Martin is now 75, and Riley, who has been a mainstay in the shop, is 82.

Martin told the Pasadena Star-News that after closing up Book 'Em, he will have more time to write and Riley will have more time to garden.

“I think it’s time. You reach a point in your life when you feel you’ve accomplished something,” Martin said. “We are heartened by our customers who have supported us over the years. Many are more than customers. They’re friends.”

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