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! And after 2020? I barely even remember what it is to shop in a store anymore.

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:: during this last year, I was supremely grateful for fast online shopping and all that it offered us during such difficult times. But one thing I really hope sticks around in our post-COVID world is our increased awareness and support of the 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 {IBD} is coming up on Saturday, April 24th. It’s a day to celebrate, support, and give back to the local bookstores that provide so much for our community. And after 2020, 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 24th, 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 teaming up with with fellow West Houston bookstore, Blue Willow Bookshop {see below}, to host a social media giveaway! Check out their Instagram page for all the details on how to win $25 gift card to one of their stores. Exclusive IBD items will also be available, in store or online, starting April 24th {while supplies last!}. If you drop by in person, you can check out some of their exclusive FREE giveaways. Finally, if you spend $15 or more that day, you’ll receive a free audiobook from Libro.fm, an indie audiobook platform. 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 24 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. In addition to their giveaway with KBB, Blue Willow will also be selling exclusive merchandise and offering a free audiobook when you spend $15 or more. They’ll have baskets of ARCs {advanced reader copies} for teens and adults. I’m personally super excited about their evening event, a virtual book talk and cocktail hour, hosted by owner Valerie Koehler {email her for the Zoom link}. Drinks and listening to someone pitch me some amazing books?


A special note for Blue Willow:: they ask that you call ahead to schedule a browsing appointment, so the store isn’t too crowded. 

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. This year, they will be hosting a virtual event with this year’s Edgar Nominees for Best Novel on their YouTube and Facebook pages, and they will have a selection of IBD exclusive items for sale. 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 47 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. Be sure to check out this standout Houston independent bookstore!

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 offering a free gift with a purchase of $10 {while supplies last}. Spend $20, and they will take 10% your entire purchase. 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 Houston independent bookstore that we missed? Let us know about it in the comments!


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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} and daughter Charlie {2020}. 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.


  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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