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Newsletter Is Turning Into Crime Wave : Library's Mystery Book Reviews Are a Hit With Sellers, Readers

October 07, 1986|DENNIS McLELLAN | Times Staff Writer

They're calling it "As Crime Goes By."

It's a mystery, espionage and suspense book review newsletter for librarians and booksellers produced by the Anaheim Public Library every other month.

But what originally started seven months ago as a service to help librarians do their book purchasing quickly proved to be a hit with both booksellers and library patrons.

"We never expected the general public to be interested in the newsletter, but they are very much interested, and we now have subscribers in 11 states and three foreign countries," said Kevin Moore, Anaheim central library manager, who co-edits the newsletter with mystery writer John Ball.

"We also found that booksellers were very interested in it because sometimes they order (books) and don't really know what they're going to get," Moore said, explaining that they try to run their reviews in the newsletter before a book is published or during the month of publication.

The newsletter, which has grown from eight to 16 pages in the current issue, features short reviews of the latest and soon-to-be-published mystery, espionage and suspense novels.

Moore, a leading West Coast scholar on the contemporary mystery novel, and Ball, the Encino author of "In the Heat of the Night" and other mysteries, trade off doing the main review and a shorter "second opinion" of each book. The books are listed under cleverly labeled categories: "Suspects at Large" (recent releases), "Misdemeanors" (paperback releases), "Out of the Morgue" (reprint and retrospective) and "Up for Parole" (not yet published).

The editor's message is called "Modus Operandi."

There are more than 100 paid subscribers to the newsletter, but Moore said they now are distributing more than 400 copies with each print run.

In addition to the book reviews, the librarian said, they have started doing short features on new writers and publishers "so that those doing the (book) ordering will have an understanding of what's happening in the industry."

With a growing number of book reviews in each issue, Moore and Ball have had to start adding guest reviewers to ease the reading load.

"There's just too much to do," Moore said. "You're talking about 45 or 50 books to review, and for two reviewers, that's an awful lot, especially since it's not a full-time occupation."

As for Moore, "I read every night at home. I try for 200 pages a night. If I get behind, I generally crank it out on the weekends."

Moore anticipates an even larger growth of newsletter subscribers, including other library systems, in the coming months.

The City of Anaheim so far has been subsidizing the book review newsletter, but Moore said they are hoping to have enough subscribers by the end of their second year of operation to cover all expenses.

Subscriptions are $5 now, but the cost will increase to $8 a year in 1987.

Anyone interested in subscribing may write to the Anaheim Public Library, 500 W. Broadway, Anaheim 92805.

Further information is available by calling the library at (714) 999-1880.

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