My Bookshop Hitlist No.1: Bookpeople

Christopher Fowler
bookpeople-gap-year-launchThe building aint't pretty, but it's what's inside that counts. You can love a bookshop without ever having gone there, because friends you like and trust know and recommend it, so today a big shout-out goes to Bookpeople in Austin, Texas. Look at the crowd it gets for events, dammit - sometimes we're lucky to get half a dozen jaded urbanites tipping up in London bookshops, even with free booze on offer. How wonderful to appear before this audience! BookPeople has been Texas' leading independent bookstore since 1970. It's been voted best bookstore in Austin for over 15 years. The rest of the country has caught on too; BookPeople was voted Bookstore of the Year by Publisher's Weekly in 2005. Its been visited by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and it stocks my books - what's not to love?
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John Portas (not verified) Thu, 02/01/2014 - 10:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I live in a small seaside town on the East coast and my nearest bookshop of any kind is a Waterstones about 20 miles away. Unless you want to read Dan Brown etc. you need to order books specially. I use a Kindle and can of course order on-line but for me, nothing beats spending an hour or two browsing a real bookshop. Discovering a new writer or taking a punt on a book that turns out to be a real delight is a genuine thrill. I am amazed that only a handful of people turn up to events. I would love to have the opportunity.

Simon (not verified) Thu, 02/01/2014 - 11:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Several years ago I was visiting Chennai (Madras), India, when I had the pleasure to attend a local bookshop event featuring Mark Billingham and China Mieville. Despite the bookshop being very large there was standing room only and the audience, whom were very knowledgeable and interactive, resulted in a very entertaining and interesting evening. The conversations between attendees continued after the official event as everything said was diagnosed and digested culminating in people having to be ushered out of the shop several hours later, still in discussion.

Helen Martin (not verified) Thu, 02/01/2014 - 22:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wow, Simon, that will be hard to beat. Our best bookstores are gone, although Victoria has a pretty good one and Little Sisters in Vancouver is still going because no one has come forward to buy it. Could it be its stock of gay literature that makes investors hesitate? Try Powell's Books in Portland Oregon. It's a full square block and several floors, art exhibits, a sixties style coffee shop and they buy used books. It's where I bought Roofworld.

Christopher Fowler Fri, 03/01/2014 - 07:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

That's great, Simon. I was amazed by the number of bookshops in New Delhi. I know Mark and China but Mark and didn't realise they'd done that. I'll have to allow more time to hit the bookshops on my next visit.