After 19 years, her premise:
It's no mystery to her.
Boston Sunday Globe, City Weekly Section | August
By Jan Gardner
After 19 years running Kate's Mystery Books near Porter
Square, Kate Mattes thinks she has a pretty good idea of what
mystery lovers want to read. So she's getting her own imprint
with a new publishing house, a novel approach for a bookseller
but one publishing colleagues think will work for her, given
At a time when it's harder for new authors to get in print
and chain bookstores exert major influence over what gets
published, Mattes said she hopes her imprint starts a new
trend in publishing. "It's putting the customer first.
I am thinking about people who walk in the door and want to
buy a book," said Mattes.
Rusty Drugan, executive director of the New England Booksellers
Association, says booksellers rarely use their own imprints,
but he thinks Mattes is on to something. Books that have won
awards or been recommended by someone well-known, a la Oprah,
always sell well. "Credentialing is a huge issue-more
so today than at any time prior because of people's lack of
time," said Drugan.
Mattes is well-connected to mystery writers, who regularly
meet at her shop. (Author Robert Parker built some of her
bookshelves.) In addition to publishing a newsletter, she
frequently holds books signings and is a popular speaker.
Early next year, the first two mysteries will be published
under the Kate's Mystery Books imprint with Justin, Charles
& Co., a new publisher in Boston. The imprint grew out
of a lunch date a customer arranged for Mattes last year with
Stephen Hull of Brookline, who was starting Justin, Charles
& Co. after working at Zoland Books in Cambridge, Simon
& Schuster, and other publishers for 20 years.
Drugan said that for a new publisher like Hull the arrangement
makes sense; already established publishers don't need the
boost from an imprint that a new publisher like Hull hopes
Mattes will receive an undisclosed percentage of the proceeds
from the sale of books with her imprint.
Mattes and Hull said it's just a coincidence that the imprints
first two mysteries have been published in England. Dead Clever
by Scarlett Thomas is the first in a trilogy of Lily Pascale
mysteries. Mattes said Pascale "could be a friend you
could sit down and have coffee with. She's not a professional
private eye." Pascale-fed up with her unemployed boyfriend
and maxed-out credit cards-lands a job teaching crime fiction
at a small university. She finds herself in the middle of
a real-life crime when the decapitated corpse of a professor
turns up on campus. Hull said he plans to publish the second
two Lily Pascale mysteries in subsequent years.
The White Trilogy by Irish writer Ken Bruen-comprised of
The McDead, A White Arrest and Taming the Alien-is set in
southeast London where even the pit bulls travel in pairs.
Mattes said Bruen doesn't fit neatly into a category. His
books are packed with corruption, and contain more violence
than traditional British mysteries.
In addition to writing some of the most acclaimed British
crime novels of the past decade, Bruen has an eclectic past.
He spent four months in a South American prison, has taught
in Africa and Vietnam, and worked as an actor for horror film
director Roger Corman.
At least four of the 12 fiction and non-fiction books Justin,
Charles plans to publish next year are mysteries. Hull and
Mattes promise the next two will be by Americans.