Late last year I wrote a post about buying books in the pandemic. As always I strove to buy paper books from bookstores, usually independent stores. I made more purchases online as I limited shopping in bookstores. A regular commenter on the blog, Kathy D., spoke of how she missed going to bookstores. She had briefly shopped in an Amazon store on one occasion. She said if readers were looking for an independent bookstore she would recommend Zenith in Duluth, Minnesota. She said good friends had moved to Duluth, bought a building and opened the bookstore.
Intrigued, I looked up the store. I found it a fascinating store with a clever design for the exterior. I re-post the photo of the outside of the store.
Among its attractions I found you could buy a mystery box of books for $50 plus taxes in which you can provide some interests and store staff would select books to send you. Books would be a mix of new and used books.
I was interested in getting a mystery box and contacted the store. They advised they could ship to Canada and would be glad to send me books.
As I considered getting a mystery box they advised me that it would cost $53 to ship the books to Canada by mail. I hesitated for some time. I have never bought books where the shipping cost more than the books. It is striking and, inexplicable to me, how Zenith could ship the books in the U.S. for $2.99 but $53 was needed to send them to Canada.
As well I would have to take into consideration the exchange rate which fluctuates constantly but always has the American dollar worth more than the Canadian dollar.
Eventually I decided to get the box and sent a request for mysteries written by Minnesota authors and legal fiction.
Zenith promptly prepared a box and sent it into the mail on May 1.
I was beginning to despair that the American and Canadian postal services would ever get the box from Duluth to Melfort when it arrived on Friday, June 18. Even though it has nothing to do with Father’s Day it made today a good day going through the books.
They were, in the order packed into the box:
1.) The Oldest Sin by Ellen Hart which is a Sophie Greenway mystery published in 1996. I have not read any in the series;
2.) The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens published in 2017;
3.) Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon published in 2017. Ms. Rendon is a member of the White Earth Anishinabe Nation;
4.) Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger published in 1998. The title sounded familiar and I certainly know of the author but I cannot recall reading it. If I did read the book it was over 20 years ago;
5.) Motion to Suppress by Peri O’Shaughnessy published in 1995. Once again I am aware of Ms. O’Shaughnessy but, if I read any of her books, it would have been before I started recording and writing my personal reviews at the start of 2000. I know I have seen the title but have no memory of reading the book; and,
6.) The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter published in 2002. I saw the book in bookstores for several years and actually bought a paperback copy at one point but never read the book. I no longer have that copy. Thus it was meant for me to read this book.
There are five paperbacks and one hardcover, The Emperor of Ocean Park. Of the books the first four are mysteries by Minnesota authors and the last two are legal fiction.
I am looking forward to reading the books and curious to find out how well the staff at Zenith were able to choose books for me, someone they have never met or talked to about books. I am used to discussing books with clerks and getting recommendations but I am not used to people picking books for me. Letting servers pick meals has worked well for Sharon and I in restaurants. I shall see how it fares with books. I shall send my reviews of the books from the Zenith collection to the store.
I regret that I expect it will be the last mystery box I order from Zenith. The time for delivery is not really an issue. I am confident I will find the books good reading. What is a challenge is that the combined cost of the books, postage and exchange pushed the total cost of the box to $140 in Canadian dollars. I do not regret the cost. I knew the total before I ordered them. As much as I love books it is more than I would pay again for a mystery box.