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 doorstep? 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 am supremely grateful for fast online shopping and all that it offers me in this overwhelming season of life with littles. But one thing I really want to focus on is awareness and support of the local businesses which serve as an anchor of support for the community. One type of independent business I feel particularly passionate about is the independent bookstores {also known as “indie” bookstores} in our city.

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 {IBD} is coming up on Saturday, April 29th. It’s a day to celebrate, support, and give back to the local bookstores that provide so much for our community. And after the last three years, these local gems need all the support we can give them. And good news! There are several indies here in the Houston area. Below, I’ve listed the local stores participating in this year’s IBD. If you live close to one, be sure to drop by for some fun swag, themed events, and exclusive sales. Even if you can’t get out to these stores on the 29th, 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 and locally made crafts. This year, KBB is offering exclusive IBD merchandise, in store or online, available only on April 29th {while supplies last!}. If you drop by in person, you can check out some of their exclusive FREE giveaways. Also, your purchase of $50 or more will enter you into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate. Run, don’t walk, to check out these fun deals!

Blue Willow Bookshop

Blue Willow Bookshop has been serving the West Houston and the Greater Houston area for more than 25 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. This year, in addition to offering exclusive IBD merchandise, they are hosting a fun story time for littles at 9:30am. They will also have mystery ARCs (advanced reading copies) to browse through, as well as an opportunity to enter into a drawing for a Box Game, crafted by a local artist. In the afternoon, they will offer drinks to sip as you browse. I literally cannot think of a better form of self care than shopping for books with a beverage in hand!

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 features 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. Join them on the 29th for Murder by the Book Recommends, where each staff member will take turns recommending some of their favorites. In addition, all recommended titles will be 20% off, and if you spend $100 on Saturday, you will be entered into a giveaway to win #1 in line, reserved parking, and reserved seating for an event of your choice. If you’re a mystery fan, you should definitely check out this gem among Houston independent bookstores!

Brazos Bookstore

Located less than a mile from the Rice Village, Brazos Bookstore has been a stronghold of literary wealth for almost 50 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. This year, they are hosting a craft story time with Houston authors Kyle and Jennifer Solak, followed by a Meet & Greet with five local children’s authors. In the afternoon, they are hosting a Meet & Greet for adults, featuring five more local authors {coffee and wine will be served}. In the evening, they are hosting bestselling author Justin Cronin for an early on sale launch of his latest novel The Ferryman. Finally, with your purchase, you can be entered into a raffle to win an ARC bundle! Be sure to check out this standout in our list of Houston independent bookstores!

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. In addition to the IBD exclusive merchandise, they are hiding a Golden Ticket somewhere in their store. Whoever finds it wins 12 audiobook downloads! 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!

Are there any Houston independent bookstores that we missed? Let us know about it in the comments!


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Rebecca Slocum
Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016}, daughter Charlie {2020}, son Zack {2021}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.

2 COMMENTS

  1. 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. 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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