Pacific Vortex by Clive Cussler

Bruce Ausen has been selling on AbeBooks for more than nine years. Based in Shorewood, Minnesota Bruce specializes in mystery, crime fiction and modern literature.

Like many booksellers Ausen began as a collector. He started amassing a collection of Mystery books around 1984. "I would buy them at bookshops and thrift stores, just picking out my favorite authors," explains Ausen. "One day I spotted a book at a thrift shop, it was a real gem but at the time I thought I already owned a copy. When I returned home I discovered I didn't have it after all, and by then it had been sold. A few days later I was telling the story to Steve Powell of Dunn and Powell Books, and was telling him about how I was kicking myself for not buying it. He told me that in the future anytime I saw a valuable book I should buy it no matter what because if I didn't want it, he would buy it. So I started book scouting for a couple different bookstores and it didn't take me all that long before I realized that instead of selling the books to a dealer for 20% of their value I should start selling the books directly to customers, so I rented a space in a friend's bookstore called Once Upon a Crime."

That was 15 years ago. Starting with his own collection as the initial stock he gradually added more books found at sales and eventually added a mix of crime fiction imported from the UK. "There weren't a lot of booksellers importing at the time and there were a lot of great authors overseas," says Ausen "It worked really well because my customers liked the British authors but still wanted the security of ordering from within their own country." He kept the retail space for six years before deciding to sell strictly through mail order and online in 1999 where he has been ever since.

Now & Then by Robert B Parker

Ausen then started to tell me why being a bookseller is such a great job. "I always collected mystery books so that's what I sell, they're what I love. I love scouting for the books and I love selling them too. It's really nice to be able to delight someone with a book they've been searching for and at the same time it's a great feeling to walk into a thrift shop and find a rare Clive Cussler for a couple of bucks. I had built up my collection to a little over 14,000 books and at that point you have to do something with them. I really enjoy what I'm doing, I used to work as a printer but I retired from that to do this full time."

After more than 20 years collecting and selling mystery novels I just had to find out who Bruce Ausen considers to be the best writers in the business. "I think I read crime fiction for the same reason as most people, entertainment and escapism. Authors like Thomas Pynchon are great writers but the books can be pretty dark and depressing. My all time favorite author is John D MacDonald, I love his books. I also really like Robert B. Parker, Jonathan Valin, and Thomas B Dewey.

I tend to like the more classic style of mystery book. I suppose you could say I'm a bit of a technophobe. I don't own a cell phone and if I didn't sell books online I don't think I'd have a computer, so I tend to like books without a lot of new technology too. I still like some of the newer authors too, like Ian Rankin. His books are still really good, and Loren Estleman's great too."