• Book

Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore

by Sloan, Robin, 1979-

There are currently 10 available

Where To Find It

Call number: Fiction / Sloan, Robin, Fiction

Available Copies: Downtown 2nd Floor, Malletts Adult, Pittsfield Adult, Traverwood Adult, West Adult

Community Reviews


Fun idea, but somewhat disappointing. No conflict lasts long enough in the book to leave a feeling of real stakes.


Well, this was a fun book club pick! It crosses the lines between those who love books, those who are geeks, and those who love mysteries, with subtle and wonderful humor woven in throughout. (One line said something like, "I was bored one night, so I decided to learn graphical interfacing. I modeled the bookstore, complete with its front window, sharp light in the front, and dusty shadows in the back. If you think this is impressive, you must be over 30.")

There is a great cast of characters, a quest complete with a wizard, a rogue, and a warrior, and the Batcave.

What's not to love?


I liked the characters, liked the mystery, but hated the resolution--there's no way the 'code' (a simple character substitution) wouldn't have been cracked by the super-hacker team. The print vs. digital debate and tension between the old guard (bookstores) and new (Google) was fun, and gratifying that there was so much respect for the printed word--digitization isn't about getting rid of books, but preserving them and making them available to a wider audience.

And It Glows in the Dark!

Much-hyped book that at first I thought didn't live up to expectations, but the story did improve. Lots about codes, bookstores (doh!), Google, fonts, and friends from childhood.

Freaked me out when I turned the light off one night and realized the book cover glows in the dark.


Several years ago, I read a short story entitled "Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore" that was a sample piece posted by Robin Sloan as the come-on for a Kickstarter called "Robin writes a book, and you get a copy..." The book produced from that Kickstarter, Anabel Scheme, was okay, but I felt it did not entirely live up to the quality of the teaser short story. When Robin emailed to his Kickstarter followers and fans that he was expanding Mr. Penumbra to novel length, I literally squeed. I have not been disappointed at all. For design and data geeks, and, I suspect, every 20- or 30-something freelancer as well, there is a lot to be excited about and recognize in this book. The humor is dry and nerdy, just how I prefer it. It does not stop me from enjoying books from either of them, but it should be noted that, like Neal Stephenson, endings are not Robin Sloan's strong suit.

Also, I'm very glad I checked out a physical book to read, even though I purchased the novel for Kindle immediately on release, because the cover is subtly glow-in-the-dark, for extra cool factor. I may have to buy a physical book now too.

Fun nerdy mystery

Sloan tells a great 21st century story of Google, the Internet, book scanning, secret societies, and a highly relatable nerd who finally finds his calling in life. The characters are all extremely lovable; the mystery is a fun one (though perhaps with a slightly contrived resolution). Unputdownable!

FUN :)

This book is such a nerdy librarian book :p I loved the originality of it all. It's very 21st century with its constant references to new technologies like the MacBook, the iPhone and Google products. That was very fun to read....and so relatable. The book took me on a journey. It was mysterious and it drew me in. The ways of solving this puzzle was accomplished in a way that no other author has produced before. Fun read. :)

Not-YA YA-ish :)

This is the best book I've read in a long time. Think "The Mysterious Benedict Society" with a twentysomething protagonist on a mission.

Good read

A good read and interesting mystery of sorts. I found it hard to put down.

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