Friday, February 5, 2016

BookPeople - Austin, TX

BookPeople - Austin, TX
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When you think of Texas you think of big, brash, and bold.  BookPeople fits this description perfectly.  If it were a person it would be 6'8" and 305 lbs.  People who find out about my journey always want to hear about my favorite bookstores.  It's impossible for me to name a favorite, there are so many terrific indies.  But when they ask me about the largest, I can click off those indies.  And now BookPeople goes to that list of indies who are among the largest.  BookPeople lays claim as being the largest in Texas, and it is a mecca of independent bookstores.  However, its not just big, it's an incredible store that literally has it all.

Any store that's been around 40+ years has things figured out and has evolved over time to remain successful.  Steve B., the CEO at BookPeople, told me that the store has had 6 consecutive years of increased profit, a wonderful sign here.  BookPeople enjoys a strong local customer base and the ties to the community run strong and deep, an important characteristic for all successful bookstores.  These ties were obvious on the week day morning when I visited and witnessed dozens of mothers with their pre-school aged children coming into the store for a story time.  All indies should try to schedule events like these.  There is literally an amphitheater in the children's section for story time (although story time was held in a different location on this day).  And it's no wonder kids like coming here.  I thought the children's section on the 2nd floor was outstanding.  Toys, books, games, and space to move around and play.

Your overall impression though will be one of size and completeness.  Two enormous levels of books and any sidelines imaginable.  There's an excellent cafe on the first floor where you can linger with a coffee and a book.  Events are held on-site on the 2nd floor or up on the 3rd floor where they have even more space.  With over 450 events/year, they are very active.  Staff recommendations are found in every section and book genre in the store.  Instead of a typical staff display table, there are staff picks written on book shelf cards all over the store.  BookPeople is a multiple year award-winning store and when you visit you'll know why.

I feel so fortunate that I got to meet Steve B. on the day of my visit.  He was great to talk to and tell me a bit about the store and its history.  I was very appreciative, as always, of his time and I highly doubt I would ever be able to do that with the CEO of Amazon.  Kudos Steve.

I know I have some regular followers who are serious about bookstores.  Put this one on your list, IN INK!  You do not want to miss this renowned bookstore, deep in the heart of Texas.  Go to an indie and buy a book.

JUST FINISHED:  Didn't.  In Wilderness, Diane Thomas.  The synopsis sounds good but it moved to slow for me.  Next!

CURRENTLY READING:  Geronimo Rex, Barry Hannah.

BookPeople has its own marquee for events.  Alert readers will recognize the celebrity entering the store.  Yes, that's my mom.  

You can shop for books in this entryway before you even enter the store.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the left of the store from the front entrance.  

One of the many great book displays in the store, this one near the front.  

When you check out you'll have lots of sidelines to choose from.  

Need a bargain?  Look for this display.  

A large section of greeting cards, stationery, and other various sidelines.  

Some of the local interests and local authors.  

You'll need a directory at this indie.  

Timely display for the season.  

Of course they have socks, and these are only just a few available.  

A great cafe on the main level in the back.  

I've seen the Baggallini line at few indies and think it must do well.  Besides, you're going to need something to put your books in that you'll be buying.  

Notice all the staff recommendation cards on the shelves.  You'll find these all over the store in every section.  

A great place to sit and try out a book.  

Need some jewelry?  Look for this display.  

Stairway to the 2nd floor.  You'll find sidelines along the way and on the wall you'll see pictures of authors who have been at the store.  

This is only a very small view of the outstanding children's section on the 2nd floor.  

This is the amphitheater often used for story time.  

Kids will love this section.  

No surprise!

With Steve on the right, the fine CEO at BookPeople.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. As I am a born and bred Iowan (Iowa City and surrounding areas), I also have Texas roots (husband). I've lived in Texas for 10 years and his family, for the most part, now reside in Austin. I'll be there in 10 days and BookPeople is always on my list when I hit Austin soil. (Prairie Lights when I'm in IC). Malvern Books is new to me, so I'll add that to my list. I love Austin, but it's not the big/small town I used to know and love. Too many people and cars today. As an aside, did you visit the Harry Ransom Center? That's always at the top of the list as their exhibits:"Gone With the Wind" gowns, The Gutenberg Bible is always on display and there was Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. To me, after a visit to a great bookstore, the Harry Ransom Center is a Wonderland.

  2. I didn't make it to the Harry Ransom Center but this just gives me a reason to go back! You have the best of both worlds; Prairie Lights and BookPeople! Thanks for the comments, Lisa.

  3. the books and the Harry Ransom Center are definitely reasons to visit Austin, but so is the food. You can walk along the lake all you want to burn off the calories, but if you've enjoyed some of the great food on offer, you'll come home with more than a few pounds of books!