Joanne Sinchuk, founder, manager and former owner of Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore

 

Q: You have been in business since 1996 (though the store was sold in 2009 to Booksmart Industries). What do you have that other booksellers don't?

What we have is what most small businesses have over the chains: Personalized customer service, knowledge of the product and community involvement. We know what our customers like to read and can make knowledgeable recommendations.

Q: Is South Florida a good place for mystery fans and writers? If so, why?

South Florida has some of the best mystery writers around. Something about our culture here. It started in Miami and has worked its way north! They say the most abundant source of crime ideas is the Miami Herald.

Q: Author appearances are key. What was your favorite event?

There is a running tongue-in-cheek feud between Tim Dorsey and Randy Wayne White. They both have signed every book here, at different times, and their signings are usually a big party. They each tell funny, not-so-flattering, but affectionate, stories about each other.

Q: What is your advice to the small business owner?

Be prepared to work harder than you ever have. People think if you work in a bookstore you sit around reading all day. In reality you get to move heavy boxes of books all day.

Q: How do you get away with not having an elaborate online presence?

We sell signed first editions on Abebooks.com. We send out emails to over 2,000 customers worldwide that result in email orders. Almost one-third of our sales are through Abebooks or email. When we have a signing, we often sell more signed books online afterward than at the signing itself. Our three largest individual customers are in Tallahassee, New Jersey and Norway respectively.

We supply the books for many conferences in South Florida -- Mystery Writers of America, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, both Palm Beach and Broward county libraries, and many Brandeis Book & Author luncheons.

In addition, we run literary luncheons in partnership with Papa's Tapas in our shopping center. For one price, groups of 20 or more can have lunch at Papa's Tapas then walk a few doors down to our store where an author will speak to them, and they get a copy of the author's book.
Once a month we hold wine seminars with NPR radio personality and wine expert Mark Spivak. And every summer we have the Authors Academy, a series of 10-12 writers' workshops on Saturday mornings taught by multi-published local authors.

Q: What are you reading now?

 I love to discover new, talented authors. Recently I read a most unusual book, Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, about a woman struggling with dementia while trying to solve the disappearance of her best friend.

Q: What have you always wanted to read but remains unopened?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.