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Best Books--Independent

The Book Mark
5001 E. Speedway Blvd.

READERS' PICK: The Book Mark, a landmark for four decades to the Old Pueblo's literary and book-buying populace, gets better and better with the passing years--and thanks to the store's brand-new paint job, those years are well disguised. Its expert staff keeps a huge inventory of books on hand, numbering nearly 130,000 titles and a quarter of a million volumes. This embarrassment of riches makes the place the best-stocked independent store in the city--and fully a quarter of that stock comes from small and independent presses. No other city of Tucson's size can boast a bookstore with as wide a range, making The Book Mark one of our city's many treasures.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP--TIE: In Greek mythology, defiant Antigone did what she believed to be right and was punished for it. Fortunately, no such fate has befallen Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave., Tucson's only feminist bookstore. Antigone succeeds as both a specialty bookstore and one that attracts a larger audience by providing a selection emphasizing quality rather than quantity. They also have a nifty selection of cards, journals, and--take note, Xena fans!--Xena-themed magnets and posters. (For more on Antigone's history and charm, see the profile of Antigone co-founder Barbara Atwood, on page 124.) Also high on our readers' list is Bookman's Used Books, Music and Software, located at 1930 E. Grant Road, and 3733 W. Ina Road.

CLUE IN: What was that one hard-boiled detective novel about the one-armed murderer and the blonde starlet? You can bet this question will be met with a glazed expression and a practiced smile at the Barnes & Noble counter. But at Clues Unlimited, 16 Eastbourne in the Broadway Village Center, any employee could deduce the author and title with half as much information. Most chain stores limit their stock to current bestsellers, but Clues Unlimited specializes in mystery and suspense, and boasts an extensive backlist for aficionados of the genre. Among the Elmore Leonards and Patricia Highsmiths are discoveries like James Crumley and Steve Fisher. They also carry limited releases like the well-sought-after but hard-to-find Charles Willeford biography. Especially helpful for the easily intimidated are clearly labeled shelves broken down by genre, with highlights including books with a Southwest emphasis, imports, and debut novels by new writers.

Case History

1997 Winner: The Book Mark
1996 Winner: The Haunted Bookshop
1995 Winner: The Book Mark

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