After more than 25 years in business, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge will close on Aug. 1.
Kate Mattes, owner of the bookstore, put her 3,400-square-foot Victorian on the market in 2007 and says that she has finally sold it to a real estate trust that plans on a mixed use for the building. Besides the store, the building houses Kate’s apartment as well as a rental unit.
“This is, of course, very sad about the store,’’ she said in a telephone interview. “But it was just the right time to do it. The near future for the real estate market looks bad. And it’s kind of bleak when you look at the book business.’’
Since opening the bookstore in August 1983, Kate’s Mystery Books has become a local gathering spot for aficionados of such writers as Robert B. Parker and Stephen King, who have become customers and friends. The store, which specializes in mysteries by American writers but recently has built up foreign offerings, has hosted numerous readings and book signings.
Mattes said that the thing that prompted the move was the death of her brother, a book agent, about five years ago. “He was a really big part of the store. I could just pick up the phone and call him’’ for advice. After he died, he left a big trove of books, and Mattes was the only one in her family who had any idea what to do with them.
“I started thinking about things, and decided that I couldn’t do this to my sister and her kids,’’ she said. So she started thinking about getting things in order. One of the first things she decided to do was to try to sell the building. That way she could potentially reopen the store in a new location and get a place to live separate from the store, hopefully making it easier to dispose of her property when the time came.
Mattes, 62, said she will stay in the house till the end of August but hopes to find other housing in Cambridge. She also has not closed the door on re-entering the book business and will put some things in storage while she decides what to do next.
"Just moving is enough for now. Before I got into the book business I was a social worker and it took a couple of years to decide I wanted to open a book store.''
In the meantime she says that she intends to try to hold the community of mystery lovers together even after her store closes.
“I hope you can get in in the next few weeks to say good-bye although I won't actually disappear,’’ she said in an e-mail to customers. “We will be having author events at different venues and of course we will have the annual holiday party so there will be opportunities for the mystery community to get together. You will get notices of them from me.’’
As she prepares to wind down the business Mattes plans to mark down everything in the store 25 percent, and on Aug. 1 there will be a packing party from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and annual yard sale, with books going for $1 or less.
Posted by Paul S. Makishima, Globe staff
Photo of Kate Mattes by David L. Ryan/Globe Staff file photo