Celebrating Houston Independent Bookstores

In our world of online shopping, one-click purchasing, and two day shipping, it’s easy to avoid going into an actual store altogether. Pull up at the curb and have my groceries brought out? Have toys, books, household goods, even clothes delivered to my door step? Yes, please!

Convenience is a busy mama’s best friend. However, sometimes I can’t help but feel we’ve taken a step in the wrong direction by sacrificing human interaction and community involvement in the name of convenience. Don’t get me wrong:: I definitely appreciate having my 30 pound bag of dog food delivered every month, rather than drag my two year old into the store at 6pm when I’ve discovered that we’re out of it. But I think we’ve lost that idea of local businesses which serve as an anchor of support for the community. 

One type of independent business about which I feel particularly passionate is the independent bookstore {also known as an “indie” bookstore}. With the advent of chain bookstores and online shopping, it looked like these small, locally owned bookstores would be run out of business. And they were, at first. From 1995-2000, the American Booksellers Association {ABA} reported a 43% decline in independent bookstores. But about a decade ago, indies began to make a surprising comeback:: from 2009-2015, the ABA noted a 35% increase in the number of stores, from 1,611 to 2,227. The question is:: why?

I think it has to do with bringing back the community involvement and interest that indies can provide. Due to the majority of their business being face to face, local stores have the ability and resources to tailor their merchandise and events to their community. While a retail chain might provide a cup of coffee and almost every book you might want at a discount price, they still feel so…detached. Efficient. Cold. Indie bookstores, by contrast, give off a cozy, warm, and personal vibe. 

Celebrating Houston Independent Bookstores | Houston Moms Blog

Even better, each location, because they are owned, well, independently, is completely different! Some focus on books of a certain genre; some offer weekly story times and book clubs; some feature local authors and handmade goods; some even offer refreshments {I found one that served beer and wine!}

Independent Bookstore Day is coming up on Saturday, April 27th. It’s a day to celebrate, support, and give back to the local bookstores that provide so much for our community. And good news! There are several indies here in the Houston area. Below, I’ve listed the local stores participating in this year’s Independent Bookstore Day. If you live close to one, be sure to drop by for some fun swag, themed events, and exclusive sales. Most of the featured items are available only in store. But even if you can’t get out to these stores on the 27th, consider looking for your next great read {either in person or online!} at your local indie bookstore!

Katy Budget Books

KBB is a used bookstore that has been serving the Houston community for over 30 years. You can buy new or used, and they offer a system of trading in your gently used books for book credit on future used purchases. The store itself gives off a fun, quirky vibe with shelves and shelves of books, locally made crafts, and a cozy coffee corner. Be sure to check them out April 25-May 12 for their Semi-Annual Book Sale, where their overstock of used books are on sale for a dollar or less. Yes, you read that correctly. Run, don’t walk!

Blue Willow Bookshop

Blue Willow Bookshop has been serving the West Houston and the Greater Houston area for 21 years. This whimsical store features new books, games, puzzles, and toys for all ages! They host author events, book clubs, a weekly story time, and much more. For Indie Bookstore Day, they are offering a day full of events themed around the 50th anniversary of the moon landing! It kicks off with an out of this world story time for kiddos and culminates with Space Drinks for the adults. Be sure to check their website for the full schedule!

Murder by the Book

Murder by the Book opened its doors in 1980 and has been serving the Houston community from its location near the Medical Center and Rice University ever since. This niche store feature mystery books of all kinds, mystery magazines, gift items, and collectibles. Their staff is incredibly knowledgeable on all things mystery related, and they also host tons of mystery themed events and author signings, including authors such as Dick Francis, P.D. James, and Patricia Cornwell. If you’re a mystery fan, you should definitely check out this store!

The Book Attic

Located literally on Main Street, this adorable used bookstore gives off a small town feel while still being the largest bookstore in Tomball. With over 60,000 books in stock, you’re sure to find you’re next favorite book in their selection. They also sell used board games and local gifts. They offer a trade in system for book credit, and their used books are heavily discounted. The  Book Attic supports their local community in a myriad of ways, including stocking school books and sending used books purchased at their store to prisoners. Make sure to stop by their new location!

Brazos Bookstore

Located less than a mile from the Rice Village, Brazos Bookstore has been a stronghold of literary wealth for 45 years. In 2006, the store was one of the lone indie holdouts; the store almost closed down when the original owner announced his retirement. The local community would have none of it though, and 27 Houstonians came together to save the day. Brazos Bookstore continues to be a pillar of the community by investing in local authors through Imprint!, the University of Houston creative writing program, as well as several other local writing groups. For Indie Bookstore Day, Brazos will feature various literary activities and fun refreshments. Be sure to check them out!

Once and Again Bookstore

Once and Again is, not surprisingly, a used bookstore located in The Woodlands; in fact, it was named the Woodlands’ Indie Bookstore! Their inventory is 70% used books, all sold at discount prices, but they also feature the latest bestsellers and other new books. They are in tune with the local schools and strive to stock all of the required reading and testing prep materials you’ll need, as well as just a large stock of children’s books. Once and Again also offers a Frequent Buyer Program, where you earn a $5 credit for every $50 you spend! 

The Book Nook

This sweet bookstore in downtown Brenham offers all that small town charm while still curating a diverse stock of new and used books. The Book Nook is composed of several rooms, each featuring different genres, that indeed look like a cozy little reading corner. For Indie Bookstore Day, they are offering a free gift with a purchase of $10 (while supplies last)! Take the family on a quintessential Texas day trip. Have a picnic near the bluebonnets, cool off with some Blue Bell ice cream, and swing by The Book Nook to grab your latest read!

Do you have a favorite indie bookstore that we missed? Let us know about it in the comments!


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2 Responses to Celebrating Houston Independent Bookstores

  1. Cassandria Funches August 31, 2020 at 9:50 pm #

    Hello Rebecca
    I’m doing some research on Indie Bookstores in Houston. Do you know how many there are in the city. I ask because I’m truly interested in starting my own. Im am avid reader and raised my children to be a well… now I feel that a legacy of beautiful words should be a gift that is shared in my community.

    Thanks in advance,

    Cassandria Funches

  2. Rebecca S September 1, 2020 at 11:19 am #

    Hi Cassandria,

    I’m not sure how many indies there are in Houston. The ones I mentioned above are the ones who were participating in Independent Bookstore Day last year. But there are certainly more around the Houston area. Good luck with starting your own store! I’m always excited to hear about new places to shop for books 🙂

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