With Independent Bookstore Day quickly approaching (April 30th!), we wanted to celebrate by introducing you to spectacular shops that you should visit. Today we’re featuring Brazos Bookstore, located in Houston, Texas – continue reading to discover what makes this bookstore and its staff unique, and all the great events they have planned!
What are some fun facts about your store?
I feel like I should tell you the details–we were founded in 1974, we were nominated for PW’s Bookstore of the Year in 2016–but are these facts fun? The most interesting facts about our store, as far as I’m concerned, are about each of us individually: one of us won a James Patterson Bookseller Bonus this year; one of us is a renowned classics scholar; two of us are on the way to graduate MFA programs; several of us are published authors. We adore literature, and we adore being a part of the writing community, and bestsellers at our store are frequently literature in translation. Does this reflect the space of Houston itself–unruly, full of different people with various ambitions? Maybe. Or, how about this: Robert Durst was an occasional customer. Is that fun?
Why do you think indie bookstores are essential?
We always joke here: yes, the books are what we sell, but really, WE’RE the product (in the least creepy way possible, of course!). I mean, why the hell go to an independent bookstore–or indie record store, or indie movie theater–these days? You can get the stuff online, with a single click. The trick of the indie bookstore is that it’s half retail space, half cultural hub. You come because you want personal recommendations; you come because you want to feel plugged into a larger artistic community; you come because reading and writing can be, occasionally, a lonely endeavor, and it’s better to be lonely together. In short, you come because you can love Amazon all you want, but Amazon will never love you back.
Can you tell us about the activities you have planned for Independent Bookstore Day?
Emblazoned in neon outside our front door: SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE! At least, I keep trying to convince the rest of the staff to install a sign like that. But for IBD, we want to make sure you can come in the morning and hang around until close and never get bored. Accordingly, we’re partnering with the Houston Zoo to bring animals into the store for a morning story time; we’re throwing a happy hour in the afternoon, and unveiling art on our windows; and in the evening, we welcome a local writer named J. Bradford Hipps to read from his new debut novel, THE ADVENTURIST. Also, I may try to raise the funds to install more neon signs outside our door, including one that says, BRAZOS BOOKSTORE: 1 BILLION SERVED! It’ll be a full-time position to update the sign on a daily basis…
Beyond IBD, what exciting events/activities are happening in your store?
Ever looking forward, on IBD, we’ll reveal our major summer program: called Summer of Kubrick, we’re partnering with Houston film institutions to present screenings, parties, and book groups that put cinema and literature in conversation. We also have a fantastic mural on our window: the face of Kubrick himself. One bookseller joked today that it has become the store’s very own T.J. Eckleburg. Wherever we go at Brazos, Kubrick watches us. Let’s hope we can live up to his fastidiousness and originality.
*Benjamin Rybeck, Marketing Director of Brazos Bookstore, interviewed by Tarah Theoret