RIP, Larry Smith

I learned on Friday that bookseller Larry Smith had passed away and it’s fair to say I was more than a little shocked by the news. I’d seen him and Sally less than a week before at Arisia and had conversation with both. It’s fair to say that Larry and Sally were two of my favorite convention booksellers, not only because they always stocked lots of my books, but because they always stocked lots of everyone’s books — there was always something good to read when you browsed Larry’s shelves. He was also the bookseller I always made sure to sign stock at, since I knew he traveled far and wide and would take my books places I might not otherwise get to. He was cantankerous and opinionated and I always enjoyed talking to him. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.

My thoughts now are with Sally and his numerous friends, who will all miss him deeply. As for me, many of the books on my shelves were originally on his. I think I’ll take one down tonight and read it in his memory, and with thanks.

27 Comments on “RIP, Larry Smith”

  1. Awww, man. I’ve bought many a fine book from Larry Smith, and it was always a delight to browse his tables at conventions. My condolences to his friends and family.

  2. I know him from numerous Readercons; I’ll miss him. My condolences to all his family and all who knew him.

  3. I also just saw him – and bought books from him – last week at Arisia. I only ever interacted with him in that one setting, but I think I’ve purchased at least one book from him every time I’ve gone to Arisia. I didn’t know him well, but it’s going to be weird to go to future Arisias and not see him there.

  4. I have been an irregular customer of his for decades, mainly at Boskone, ReaderCon, and LunaCon. He will be sorely missed by all. R.I.P. Larry Smith.

  5. I learned this morning about Larry’s death, and have found it very difficult to get anything done today. We last saw him at Philcon a few weeks ago, where he was his usual merrily irascible self as I signed another stack of books for him and Sally. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be seeing him again.

    Obviously our thoughts must all go out to Sally — another very dear person.

  6. I was just thinking about seeing him and Sally at Marcon and making my spring book buy from them. Really going to miss the old curmudgeon.

  7. Ah, no. My deepest sympathies to Sally–I’ll miss browsing the tables and chatting with him about books . . .

  8. Wish I’d have known him. Based on his friends, he was special. Warm thoughts for you all.

  9. His booth was one of the things I looked forward to the most at the few cons I go to, I always knew I would find something good to read, a few years back I decided to stop buying books for myself from Amazon and wait to buy them from him. I’ve seen several comments around the web saying he could be crabby and difficult but he was never anything other than friendly and helpful to me. My deepest condolences to his wife and many friends.

  10. Alas. Larry Smith introduced me to Lois McMaster Bujold. Cat Faber had sung a song based on one of her books, and I was intrigued so I went to him to find the book. As I was buying it:

    Larry: She’s right over there if you want her to sign it.
    Me: …. 0.0 …!
    Larry: I can call her over for you if you’re shy.
    Me: …. 0.0

    So he called out and waved her over, and we had a nice little chat while she autographed my _Paladin of Souls_. I’m very grateful for his empathy in that moment to a timid fan. Condolences to Sally

  11. Sigh. 2017, you’re going to be as big of a jerk as your older sibling, 2016, aren’t you? Sigh.

  12. So, that guy I saw at Arisia that made me think “he looks an awful lot like John Scalzi” was … John Scalzi. Well, I hope you had a good time.

  13. Many a time I helped Larry load and pack up at Capclave. I suppose his health issues finally caught up with him; he will be missed.

  14. He was a heckuvaguy. It seemed like I knew him forever. Helped him [along with many others] unload his van in Columbus at World Fantasy in October.

  15. Larry’s place was always the first or second stop at Worldcons. I always enjoyed chatting with him (and I’m an introvert!) Usually always spent way more than I should have, but I always found things I never saw anywhere else. Godspeed, Larry, and condolences to Sally.

  16. I’ve been a customer of his at several WorldCons and World Fantasy Cons. It is always good to have a well stocked dealer at a con, regardless of size. He will be missed.

  17. I didn’t make it down to the dealer’s room this year at Arisia — that sometimes happens when one is helping to run the con. I had a pile of cash set aside to spend on books from him and am now sad I didn’t carve out the time. He probably had no idea who I was, but he and/or Sally have been a fixture at many of the cons I’ve been attending the past decade, and he will be missed.

  18. @Zelda

    _Paladin of Souls_ is a great book! And that sounds just like Larry. He could be a bit of a curmudgeon, but he was also a treasure. I bought books from him just a few weeks ago at GaFilk if I remember correctly.

  19. I also saw Larry last at Philcon (and bought a book; I’ve bought most of my new books from him the last few years). I was looking forward to seeing him at Boskone. My condolences to Sally.

  20. Hey, 2017, you don’t have to emulate 2016, all right? Larry Smith, mildly irascible, always had a good comeback!, carried the good stuff. Condolences and hugs to Sally.

  21. “. . . merrily irascible self.” What a wonderful way to describe him! Okay, crotchety and cranky as well sometimes, but most often because he was already doing something. It probably didn’t help that his sense of humor was so dry and deadpan that people often didn’t realize it was there.

    He was generous, witty, welcoming, see above about his sense of humour, and wasn’t just a cat person, he cooed to them. I owe him special thanks: for boring reasons I was cripplingly insecure when I rejoined the community some 15 years ago. I’d started back with people in the Dealer’s Room and there realized that I was ‘one of us’, the book folks, when I walked in and Larry slowly waved a book back and forth in front me: “Elspeth, you want this. You want this.” And damn if he wasn’t right: it was an annotated copy of Flatland.

    I started to write about Larry and Sally as booksellers but there could go on at length about all the work they do that results in the array of books people see. Instead I’ll close that while I was’t one of Larry’s closest friends he was one of my dearest. And the most merrily irascible person I know.

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