I wanted to dedicate a blog to a much appreciated business, BookPeople. As a city, Austin has an old and true-to-life motto: Keep Austin Weird. BookPeople must be a cornerstone to that weirdness.
Founded in November 1970, BookPeople was originally named Grok Books, a joint effort in business among a few UT Austin students.
Today, BookPeople is THE largest independent bookstore in the state of Texas.
From their website:
“Located in the heart of downtown, BookPeople has been voted best bookstore in Austin for over 15 years. BookPeople was voted Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly in 2005. With visits from some of the most interesting and important authors of the past 43 years, as well as by Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, BookPeople is the destination bookstore in Texas.”
This is not a sponsored blog. I’m not that important…yet. But, I am a fan of the place. I’m the kind of person who would write a review on Yelp for even the most average of dinners. Why not show some love to a business that has meant a lot to me over the years?
I’ve frequented BookPeople since the 1990s. Before I had a license, I took the city’s vast network of bus routes, a 90 minute venture, in order to spend perhaps an hour in the comfort of this bookstore. That’s how much this place meant to me, and I was a teenager then. The feeling has not changed now that I’m in my 30s.
I spoke with BookPeople’s CEO, Steve Bercu, briefly over the phone. I wanted to know what else I could highlight about the business that many people may not know.
Mr. Bercu was quick to emphasize community involvement. BookPeople is a business, and yes, it is the largest independent bookstore in the state, but there’s more to BookPeople than it’s success. BookPeople hosts summer literary camps that include the participation of more than a 1,000 kids each summer. BookPeople also participates in school book fairs and book drives, helping elementary and middle schools raise funds. They are also involved in the Texas Teen Book Festival and the Texas Book Festival.
BookPeople hosts more than a dozen book clubs and hosts a specialized branch of books and activities for mystery enthusiasts called, MysteryPeople. They provide story time three times a week, open to the community.
In addition to all this, BookPeople brings in authors regularly for signings and lectures. To find out who’s coming, or to learn about BookPeople’s current events, visit their calendar.
Then there’s the atmosphere: cozy and interesting. There are stacks upon stacks of books and in between those stacks are shelves crammed with objects. BookPeople carries local artisan jewelry, art, incense, soaps, stuffed animals, costumes for kids, toys, paper products, clothing, and so much more. You could spend hours looking at everything for sale and you still wouldn’t have made a dent in the inventory. BookPeople also has an in-house cafe called, CafePeople and they make the most delicious lavender and lemon infused refresher I’ve ever had.
I tried taking pictures of it all and failed. Still, I captured some visual proof to the sheer awesomeness of the place.
603 N. Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78703
Open 9AM – 11PM