MMGM and #IMWAYR: Spotlighting three indie bookstores in Texas!

This is sort of a weird post, because I don't have any reviews for y'all today—mainly because I've been a bit of an Agent of Chaos™ this last week and haven't finished any books! (I'm in the middle of two graphic novels simultaneously, which is living dangerously for me, and probably the reason I haven't finished either one.)

So instead of book reviews, I figured I'd share something else with y'all! Over the last month, through different kindnesses and strokes of luck, I have gotten to visit three different indie bookstores across the state of Texas. I don't live close to an indie bookstore, so this has been an absurd privilege (and an absurd drain on my family's bank account, thanks to my purchases...).

I wanted to share about these bookstores so that, if you ever get the chance to visit these cities in Texas, you know where to stop, and if you don't, at least you can vicariously enjoy their delights through my photographs! It honestly just brings me joy these stores even exist, and gosh, I wish I could visit them all the time.

So without further dillydallying, let's talk bookstores!

Don't forget, you can click on these pictures to view them larger and scroll through them more easily.

BookPeople

Austin, Texas

BookPeople is the best place on the planet Earth—the best. I've been fortunate to go a total of four times in my life. The first, I was kind of having a nervous breakdown for other reasons, so I didn't really enjoy my visit. The second, third, and now fourth, I've loved every single second of being in there. (Except the weird embarrassment I always get at bringing tons of books to the checkout—but, like, what am I supposed to do? Not support the indie bookstore?)

What's amazing about BookPeople is that it's incredibly well-curated, but also, it's huge—two stories packed to the gills with books, and display tables, and posters, and staff picks, and decorated signs, and everything. It's bigger than most Barnes & Nobles, but it also carries way more unique books that are way better organized and highlighted. The sections are colorful and laid out almost like niches, so you can kind of hide in them and feel secluded from the rest of the store. Which is nice, because there's always a good number of customers in BookPeople—keep this place open, y'all!

Just look at the YA graphic novel section (heaven on earth):



Or the LGBTQ+ YA section (yes, they have a dedicated section for that!!):


Or how about the MG graphic novel section (yes, I only took photos of my personal haunts, don't judge me):




Are you seeing all these cute signs on the shelves highlighting different books? If not, I'll highlight a few for you that are drawn like the book covers:



We're not even done. Look at the kids' section upstairs:


Even the stairs have gifts on them:


Look at this mural (they have murals):


And look closer, where you can see the whole mural (even BookPeople itself!) is spawning out of the book the child is reading, through sheer imagination:


This was just hanging out on a window (love it):


And look at these! They're made by the staff there, and I love them!



Here's the books I piled into my basket (I'm too lazy to rotate the photo, so sorry, y'all):


And here's a smattering of books I didn't even get but still had to photograph:






Do you see why I love this place?! Any reader will feel at home here—there's a section for every kind of book, and it's probably filled with all your past and future favorites. I love BookPeople so much.

Now for our second bookstore...

Hyperbole Bookstore

College Station, Texas

This is a very different kind of bookstore, but no less wonderful in its own way! BookPeople is huge, and it's storied, having existed since 1970. Hyperbole is literally brand-new, having just opened in October, and it's quite tiny—one room about the size of a tailor, or barbershop, or Starbucks.

But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in curation and style! I found four books at Hyperbole, not to mention some cute bookmarks, and I have weirdly restrictive book tastes (I basically only buy kids' graphic novels these days). Imagine the mileage a reader with broader horizons could get out of this store!

This pair of photos (which should really just be one landscape photo) shows you how Hyperbole makes use of their space:



I'm obsessed with how aesthetically coordinated the whole store is, from wall colors to signs to online graphics—deep greens and light browns are Hyperbole's thing.

The back wall has a stunningly adorable picture book rack, plus space for the store's weekly storytimes:


Please zoom in and read the adorable placard they have on the wall over there:


What I'm obsessed with about Hyperbole is that, even though they're small, they do all the things a bigger bookstore (like BookPeople) would do, from children's storytimes...to book clubs:


To "blind date with a book" displays (I've never bought these, but I love the idea):


This store's got spunk, y'all. And even my graphic novel-addled little heart was happy, because amidst the YA section on the left wall is two brilliantly curated shelves of graphic novels (zoom in on the second photo to see them):



And the MG graphic novel section gets almost a whole bookcase (also brilliantly curated):


Hyperbole is run by a mother-daughter team, and their initiative is wildly impressive—this feels like the 21st century vision of an indie bookstore, perfectly Instagrammable but also just as smartly curated and assembled as any indie bookstore, despite the small team. I love this place so much, and if I ever find myself back in College Station, you know I'll be coming back!

(One little thing if you ever visit: This store is in kind of a weird strip mall, where it's sandwiched between two other suites, and it faces straight out onto the street. The parking lot is actually on the side, not in front of the store, so when Google Maps tells you you've arrived, you probably won't see a sign and you'll be like, "Where's the bookstore?" Just walk toward the street and take the little sidewalk past the first suite—you'll see it then!)

Now for our last bookstore...


Interabang Books

Dallas, Texas

I cannot believe I got to visit so many amazing bookstores this month, y'all. If we're thinking of bookstores by size, with BookPeople as our largest, followed by your average Barnes & Noble, I'd say Interabang is next, with Hyperbole after that.

Interabang, like Hyperbole, is a one-room suite in a strip mall, but it's probably almost twice the size, and it's fairly more stuffed—they've got books up to the ceiling in a couple spots. According to the website, the store opened in 2017, then somehow survived literally being destroyed by a tornado and moved into their current space in 2019. (And then survived a pandemic too, I guess? Geez—this is a bookstore that just won't quit.)

Interabang has 11 staff, and it is named after the question mark/exclamation point symbol that makes up their logo! And it is a very, very cool bookstore.

Let's start with some sections! This is adult fiction, towards the front:


Picture books in the back:


The display tables are just spectacular, as you can see. Here's a wonderful one curated just for Mother's Day, with mom-themed books and gifts:



Here's one shelf of the YA section:


I had one quibble about YA at this store, which is that they carry very few graphic novels—so few that they don't separate them into a section, and instead have them interspersed in the regular YA. (You can see some copies of Heartstopper peeking out in the picture above!)

That's not the case for the MG section, which has two shelves of graphic novels (second photo) underneath the books laid out for display (first photo):



They have an aquarium, which I love so so so so so so so much:


And I loved seeing a few familiar books highlighted throughout the store, like 49 Days:




And Ferris, which I haven't read yet but cannot wait to:


So yeah, this bookstore was definitely a win as well!

So how can I support these bookstores?

I'll be very honest and transparent for a second. I buy most of my books from Barnes & Noble or Amazon, not indie bookstores. (I really need to quit Amazon—the problem is that we already shop there for other things, and I don't want to create chaos for my family with even more packages coming into our house. I feel like that's an excuse, but that's my reason.)

Anyway, I am not judging you for a second if you aren't much of an indie bookstore shopper—I love a Barnes & Noble visit as much as any book nerd does. (And I haven't even mentioned libraries—you can literally read books without paying for them!! Wild stuff, I know.)

That all said, if you're looking at these photos and desperately wishing these stores were closer to where you live (like I am!), I suspect you already know why indie bookstores need our support. I find cool things at Barnes & Noble all the time, but it's likely never going to have the unique selection, curation, or personality that an indie bookstore can have. These stores are labors of love by book nerds like us—they are living shrines to specific people's taste in stories. And frankly, the world needs as many physical spaces dedicated to books as we can get—we shouldn't have to hide all our books in secret bookcases at home like they're something to be ashamed of! Books everywhere!! I think my ideal world would have indie bookstores, Barnes & Nobles, libraries, and Little Free Libraries on every corner—something of everything.

The tricky thing is, indie bookstores are vulnerable, especially smaller and newer ones like Hyperbole and Interabang. These stores don't have the economies of scale that Barnes & Noble has, or the marketing reach. Customers' whims combined with Murphy's law dictate whether these stores can survive or not. And I definitely want them all to survive.

So what can we do? Well, I have good news. If you aren't able to visit Texas and see these stores, and you have some spare energy or time (a bold assumption, I know!), there's ways you can support these stores online!

One is ordering directly from them. Each store has their own online shipping operation, complete with well-curated websites where you can discover new books to try. I linked the websites above, but I'll link them here as well, for BookPeople, Hyperbole, and Interabang.

Another is these two cool websites I'm totally about to man-splain to you (I've never used either, and I know many of y'all have): Bookshop and Libro.fm. Bookshop is more of a general-purpose online bookstore, while Libro.fm is specifically for audiobooks. But both of them let you choose an indie bookstore (including any one of the three above!) that will get paid every time you make a purchase. If you're nervous about online orders from a small store, you might feel more comfortable with these websites, because they provide the products themselves and are fairly established by now.

In conclusion:

That's a long post, I know, but basically, I want to say:
  • BookPeople, Hyperbole Bookstore, and Interabang Books are the best!!!
  • Literally figure out a way to come to Texas and see at least one of them!
  • But if you can't, you can support these stores online by shopping through them, Bookshop, or Libro.fm!

That's all for now! May an indie bookstore visit be in your future! ✨✨

Comments

  1. I know it was long, Max, but because I love bookstores, too, I read every bit! I went to a bookstore new to me last summer in Columbia, MO while visiting my brother. I could say so much about it, just as you have about these stories, found some great books plus they had fun "bookish" things all over. You know I work at a non-profit, all-volunteer-run used bookstore here in Denver & I love it, suspect you would love it, too. We purchase only a few books, take special orders when our customers wish it, but rely entirely on donations! It's been going over 50 years! Denver does have lots of great Indie & used bookstores, also Barnes & Noble, etc. We're lucky to have so many choices! (See how much I loved your post. I could go on & on about favorites here!) Happy reading & happy Earth Day! Thanks for every bit!

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    1. If I ever make it to Denver (you guys have SO many cities down there in the States, how could one ever visit them all?? It's a different story here in Canada, haha.), I'll make a beeline for your shop, Linda! It sounds amazing. <3

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    2. I'll have to check with you for bookstore ideas in Denver, as Tattered Cover is the one that I've been to the most.

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    3. Thank you so much for the kind comment, Linda!! I love that you love bookstores so much too, and how wonderful that Denver has so many choices to check out, and that you got to visit a new store in Columbia too. If I ever end up in Denver, I would love to see the bookstore where you work—it always sounds so cool when you mention it, since I’ve never seen an all-volunteer bookstore! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts—take care!

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  2. YAY! This post is AMAZING! I love visiting and supporting independent bookstores whenever I can (I actually mention one in my post today, funnily enough) - they are such a vital and vibrant force in our communities, and need to be supported and protected. I am a fierce proponent of the library (of course, being a librarian), but I also love owning books, especially favourite titles that I know I'll read again and again. Thankfully my city up here in Canada has a number of wonderful independent and locally-owned bookstores, including a couple that focus specifically on children's books, which is amazing! I don't know when I'll ever make it to Texas (the closest I've been is a stop-over in the Dallas airport), but if I do, I'll know to visit at some of these amazing bookstores. :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Jane!! I agree with you about both indie bookstores and libraries—such wonderful places that deserve protecting and fighting for. And it’s funny, I can imagine librarians are some of the biggest bookstore patrons—the more you love books, the more you can’t resist having ones that are yours to keep! And how awesome that you have access to such great stores in Canada—the one you mentioned in your post sounded amazing. I really appreciate you stopping by—take care!

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  3. What amazing bookstores, so jealous. The Book People would be lovely to peruse. Happy MMGM

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    1. It’s funny, I’m not able to go to these stores regularly, so we can be jealous of their frequent patrons together! ;D And BookPeople is especially amazing to visit. Thanks so much for stopping by, Brenda—take care!

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  4. These bookstores look amazing, especially the one in Austin. I go to Dallas every year to visit my late husband's family and will try to check out the Dallas bookstore on one of my visits.

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    1. That’s really lovely that you visit his family in Dallas every year, and yes, definitely check out Interabang when you’re there!! Who knows, maybe you could even drop by Austin to visit BookPeople—although it would not be as short a drive as one would hope, alas. Thanks so much for stopping by, Natalie—take care!

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  5. Now I want to go to Texas and check out these bookstores! What wonderful descriptions and photographs. We have an equally wonderful indie bookshop in Santa Barbara and I love going there.

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    1. Thank you so much, Helen!! I’m glad to hear you have an indie bookstore you love where you are too. I really appreciate you stopping by—take care!

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  6. What a wonderful collection of indie bookstores. I may need to take a long field trip some day. My connection to these personable places to immerse yourself in books even has one of my local favorites (Tattered Cover) as the MG image on the top of my blog page. Happy MMGM!

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    1. An indie bookstore field trip is the kind of trip I can get behind!! And I Googled Tattered Cover—how cool that it’s a whole indie bookstore chain! I really appreciate you stopping by, Greg—take care!

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  7. I loved every bit of this post! What a delight to discover a love letter to indie bookstores with tons of amazing photos on your blog this morning. This is also a genius idea for a Monday post when you haven't been able to finish a book--I'm totally going to steal. "Weirdly restrictive book tastes" had me laughing because SAME. I also still buy too much from Amazon but I try to go indie bookshopping every month because I feel like it's my duty as a reader. And hardly a chore! I'm taking a little road trip to Pittsburgh this weekend and have mapped out several bookstores to visit--I'm going to make sure I take plenty of photos so I can plan my own blog post sharing great stores! Thank you for the inspiration and such a delightful read today.

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    1. Please, steal this idea and tell us all about the bookstores in Pittsburgh!! I would love to see all your photos. And I’m really glad you enjoyed the post—it definitely came in handy, because I was planning it anyway and then really just could not get a book finished this last week! And I’m glad you relate to having restrictive book tastes too! I hope you’re enjoying your road trip right now—thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by, Elisabeth!

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  8. I love independent bookstores! There is a used book store in the town about a 40 minute drive from us. It's a rabbit warren full of all kinds of treasures! We used to make trips to Portland in large part, just to go to Powell Books. Before your post I had been contemplating taking my grandkids to Vancouver Kidsbooks when we are visiting, but now I am determined! The birthday girl can choose her own birthday book (although of course, I've already purchased a couple for her.)

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    1. I forgot to add that when I get a receipt at my library, it tells me how much money I saved today by borrowing, and how much I have saved so far in the year. Last year I saved over $5,000 by using the library!

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    2. I love all of this, Cheriee!! I'm glad there's an indie bookstore you can get to fairly easily, even if it's a bit of a drive, and I hope you and your grandkids have a blast at Vancouver Kidsbooks. (I feel like getting to pick your own birthday book *plus* having books picked out by a bona fide book blogger is the best gift—your granddaughter is very lucky!) Also, I wish I could visit Powell one day—it must be seriously amazing. And $5000 in savings is amazing—I wish my library calculated that, since it would probably get me to borrow more books! I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts—take care!

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  9. I was just in Texas. I wish I had read this sooner, because I have no plans to ever go back to Texas. I hope someone from the stores sees your post. I'm sure they would be pleased. It's a lovely post. Thanks.

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    1. Oh no—alas, the timing! I hope you had a wonderful visit to Texas anyway. And I really appreciate that—I definitely wanted to honor these stores and all the hard work their staff members put into them! Thanks so much for stopping by, Rosi, and take care!

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  10. Wow! Those bookstores are fantastic!! That first one especially - I think I could spend an eternity looking at all the fun elements in that store. Thanks for sharing this!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I could spend an eternity at BookPeople too, Nicole—seriously, I would move into that store and live there if they would let me! Thank you so much for stopping by, and take care!

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  11. Great post! My sister lives in Austin, and I've been planning a visit... I'll have to make sure I check a bag and leave lots of room for book purchases. :D I feel you on the conundrum about Amazon and indie bookstores. I made a huge effort to buy indie more consistently during the pandemic, but I haven't really successfully kept it up. We don't have an indie store here in town, so I always have to buy online to buy indie, unless I'm traveling. Thanks for sharing your trip and those amazing photos!

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    1. Oh my gosh—you will actually have the chance to visit BookPeople, Kasey!! If you end up going, you have to let us know what you think—that is so fun. And I definitely get what you mean about indie buying being tricky—it's really hard when you want to shop in-person but Barnes & Noble is the only thing near you! It's really cool that you worked so hard to order indie books online during the pandemic, though. I really appreciate you stopping by—take care!

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