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With founder's recent death, Book Carnival's fate in question

February 25, 2010 | 12:07 pm


Dean R. Koontz had been writing for more than 30 years before he decided to do a book signing, and when he finally did, in 2001, he chose to sign at Book Carnival in Orange. Founder Ed Thomas made Book Carnival, which focuses on mystery books, a leader and tastemaker. The store had fans in both writers and readers, and won the Mystery Writers of America's Raven Award for a non-writing contribution to the field.

But the fate of the store is now in question. Thomas, whose wife, Pat, suffers from Alzheimer's, died of lung cancer at age 77 on Tuesday. His family has plans to look for a buyer. The OC Register reports:

Thomas was almost always behind the counter, open book in hand (he read the way other people breathe) surrounded by stacks of the just-finished and the about-to-begin. If you wanted something he'd gladly put down his book to help you, though if he liked it, and thought you might, he'd try to sell that one to you, too....

Pat was the people person, the one who built relationships with publishers and day-to-day customers. Ed Thomas, not always the most outgoing guy, knew books. And writers.

He loved writers.

The OC Register spoke to several writers who will miss Thomas, including Koontz, Michael Connelly and T. Jefferson Parker. Plans are being made for a remembrance for Thomas -- at Book Carnival, of course.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Dean R. Koontz at Book Carnival in 2001. Credit: Al Schaben / LA Times