Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kepler's Mystery Book Swap

Last Saturday night I went to a mystery book swap held at one of my local independent book stores, Kepler's in Menlo Park, CA. 

It's an interesting concept. You buy a ticket that pays for the evening and you bring a mystery novel that you loved. You talk about the book with other people who love mystery fiction and then they tell you about a mystery novel that they loved. At the end of the evening you swap books, getting a lovely new novel to read. Kepler's also threw in an Advanced Reader copy of another mystery. 

I brought The Last Policeman by Ben Winters (you can still enter to win a free copy of this book here). 

Here's how the logistics worked:

1) At first we were encouraged to eat snacks and mingle. Wine and water were served as well. Then we were asked to sit down according to numbers on our name tags. 

2) There were between 5-8 people at each table, you describe your book to one another in a round robin style. After twenty minutes you move to another table, also according to your name tags. By the end of the evening you had been to three tables hearing about 18 books.

3) You all put the book you brought on a table in the middle of the room for swapping. Dessert was served.

4) Then we all picked books in order of numbers, also on our name tags. Once it got going, you could steal someone else's book, or pick a new one from the table. This was really interesting to watch.   

The most popular book was Ghost Man by Robert Hobbs. This book was stolen five times. The next most popular was by Ruth Rendell. This was surprising to me. I thought people would come to an event to find a new author, but many just want a sure thing they know they will enjoy, even if they know the author. After Ruth Redell, the third most popular author with multiple books on the table was Donna Leon. Fourth was Elizabeth George. 

People who wanted the same book traded e-mail addresses so they could trade the books after they read them. 

This book is about a man who makes people disappear. 

5) After the book picking was done, the folks at Kepler's restocked the tables with Advanced Reader Copies and people were encouraged to take two books they were interested in. 

I didn't get this book, but doesn't it have a lovely cover...

These are the two books I walked away with: 

The next Kepler's Book Swap will be July 13th. They haven't completely determined the theme yet, but it will most likely be summer reads. You can find out more about the event at http://www.keplers.com.


  1. This sounds like a lot of fun and is a fabulous idea! I'd do it if they had something like this in Cleveland.

  2. What a great idea! I think I'll host one at my house for my mystery book club.

  3. @kerry - I think that's a great idea and it would work well in a smaller format. Please let us know what books your mystery book club winds up recommending. We love book recommendations.