The staff of Mysterious Galaxy bookstore recently revealed that the San Diego bookseller must find a new owner and a new location before losing its lease in less than 60 days. The publishing community responded with a flurry of support for the genre bookstore, generating press and contact from potential new owners.
“We have had heard from interested buyers and we are moving forward to the next steps,” said Kelly Orazi, the store manager at Mysterious Galaxy. “The level of support and love from the community has been incredible. We all feel the love.”
For the last 26 years, Mysterious Galaxy has focused on science fiction, fantasy, mystery, young adult, romance, and horror books. Despite a 5 to 10 percent increase in bookstore sales in recent years and a reputation for well-attended readings and convention signings, the bookstore needs a new location and new owner to survive. They hope for “a turn-key sale” that preserves the current staff.
The #SaveMysteriousGalaxy hashtag gathered Twitter and Instagram support from around the globe, including Neil Gaiman, a Mysterious Galaxy reading veteran who tweeted “This is heartbreaking. So much affection here for a San Diego institution” to his 2.7 million followers.
Authors were quick to share memories of the bookstore. “They’ve been such a constant presence in my publishing life,” said Sarah Kuhn, author of the Heroine Complex novels. The journey from Kuhn’s home in Los Angeles to San Diego can take between two and four hours, depending on the city’s notorious traffic. Nevertheless, Kuhn has made the trip well over ten times for events at the bookstore. “Honestly, it's hard for me to imagine having a book come out and not having an event at Mysterious Galaxy,” she said.
The bookstore has earned praise from publishing professionals as well. “I have worked closely with Mysterious Galaxy for a decade,” said Alexis Nixon, the assistant director of publicity at Berkley Publishing Group. “The very first author event I set up was with them. I was a very green publicist, and Maryelizabeth was so patient and kind.”
The bookstore opened in 1993, founded by Terry Gilman, Maryelizabeth Yturralde, and Jeff Mariotte. On opening day, the authors Ray Bradbury, David Brin, and Robert Crais all joined the festivities. The founders opened a second location in Redondo Beach in 2011. That retail location closed in 2014.
“Mysterious Galaxy is the store I wish I had in my town growing up,” said Christopher Farnsworth, author of Flashmob and Blood Oath, recalling readings at Mysterious Galaxy’s Redondo Beach location. Instead of a stiff and formal author reading, Farnsworth remembered a festive atmosphere. “I walked in the door and instantly felt like I belonged,” he said. “We drank beer and talked about everything from vampires to politics to men’s fashion.”
As the bookstore seeks what the staff calls an “11th hour miracle,” co-founder Maryelizabeth Yturralde shared a science fiction metaphor for the transition. “It's hard to imagine a book world without Mysterious Galaxy,” she said. “Even if it is like the Starship Enterprise, under a different captain and crew.”