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Open-and-Shut Book Cases

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The news is both good and bad for some Ventura County bookstores and their customers these days.

The good news comes for mystery fans who fretted when Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks went up for sale.

But you can toss out the sympathy cards--it isn’t dying after all. Current employees Heidi Sobel, Deannie Harrington and Jane Belcher have bought into the store and will become partners with owner Audrey Moore.

“For me, being able to keep MTDF alive and well, while remaining partially involved, is the best of two worlds,” Moore said in announcing the change on her Web site. Since her new partners have been with the store for at least three years, the transition, to take place at the end of the year, will cause barely a ripple.

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However, Moorpark will lose its only independent bookstore after the December holidays when Ralph Nicoletti closes Crazy 4 Books on Los Angeles Avenue. His motto--Books Are Food for the Hungry Mind--caught the imagination of book lovers, but apparently not enough of them to keep the store alive. Nicoletti and his wife Rosemary, both teachers, will continue to tutor neighborhood children, but they will do it from their home, he said.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on the future of the Ventura Bookstore in downtown Ventura. It has been up for sale and has attracted some interested buyers, but nothing has been finalized. While the uncertainty lingers, owner Ed Elrod continues to cut prices and reduce inventory. When told about the last-ditch save for Mysteries to Die For, Elrod lamented that he had no such prospects among employees.

Despite the uncertainty, new bookstores still pop up. The newest kid on the block, Abednego Book Shoppe, began operating on Thompson Boulevard in midtown Ventura in January with a mix of mostly used, some new and some rare books. Also, Clarey Rudd acquired the used bookstore Second Time Around in April, kept the location in downtown Ventura and changed the name to Bank of Books.

So the beat goes on with smaller bookstores finding their niche among the larger booksellers in the county while they all share the marketplace on the Internet.

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In case you are wondering if anyone goes to the library anymore, keep your eye on the massive renovation of the old Foster Library on Main Street in Ventura.

Overall, the news is good for readers. Meanwhile, don’t forget to hug your favorite bookseller before it’s too late.

HAPPENINGS

* Today at 2 p.m. Spooky stories and trick-or-treating with the Stinky Cheeseman. Candy and treats for children. Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Today at 2:30 p.m. Dr. Judith Boice will present a seminar from her book, “But My Doctor Never Told Me That!” Signing will follow. Local Hero Books & Cafe, 254 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 646-3165.

* Monday at 11 a.m. Story time with art. Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Monday at 7 p.m. Ongoing discussion group on “Conversations With God” by Neale Donald Walsch. Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Tuesday at 7 p.m. First Tuesday Contemporary Book Group will focus on “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant. Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

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* Tuesday at 8 p.m. Kathy Roxby and Deborah Slaught will read their poetry, followed by open mike. The Daily Grind, 607 E. Main St., Ventura, 641-1679.

* Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Read about favorite Sesame Street characters. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Wednesday at 7 p.m. Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network will hold its regular monthly meeting at Borders Books & Music. Sue Zussman, community relations coordinator for the bookstore, will discuss “Now That Your Book Is Published, How Do You Get the Local Bookstore People to Stock It?” 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Wednesday at 7 p.m. A monthly book discussion club will focus on “Baltimore Blues” by Laura Lippman. Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Wednesday at 7 p.m. A group that allows participants to read and talk about their writing is open to writers of all genres. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Thursday at noon. Carole Nelson Douglas will discuss and sign “Cat in a Jeweled Jumpsuit.” Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Thursday at 7 p.m. Star Wars costume and trivia contest. Prizes awarded. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Author Barry Siegal will discuss and sign “Actual Innocence.” Calabasas Barnes & Noble, 4735 Commons Way, (818) 222-0542.

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* Friday at 7 p.m. Pajamarama story time will be “Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep” by Joyce Dunbar. Crayons and coloring after story. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Saturday at 10 a.m. Carolina Garcia-Aguilera will discuss and sign “A Miracle in Paradise.” Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Saturday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. August Kund will sign “Reflections on a Long Journey” at The Bookworm, 2155 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, 482-1384.

* Saturday at 7 p.m. Pajamamania story time at Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

Plan Ahead: Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network has announced its second annual poetry contest for the public. There will be rhyming and non-rhyming categories with cash prizes. Deadline for entries is Dec. 31. Write for rules (with a self-addressed, stamped envelope) to SPAWN Poetry Contest II, P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653.

Information about book-signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to anns40@aol.com or faxed to 647-5649.


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