Monday, December 12, 2011


I hate Christmas shopping. Well, that’s not quite true. I hate figuring out the perfect gift for each person on my list. Some people have a talent for knowing the exact thing to buy—not me. So this year several people on my list are getting books from my friendly independent book-sellers. I know I can count on these to help me find the very best presents:
MURDER BY THE BOOK is my choice for mysteries, action novels, and a wide range of genres that will delight some of my favorite people. AND—big plus drum roll—they have autographed copies of many of those books. Want a great read signed by Janet Evanovich, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Diana Gabaldon, John Sandford, Kathy Reichs? No problem! Call or email your order. Or better yet, stop in and ask the staff for recommendations. Like them on Facebook and keep up with all the famous authors who speak and sign there. 
KATY BUDGET BOOKS is another indie favorite. In West Houston near Katy, this store has everything! New and used books, many signed, of all kinds. Fiction, non-fiction, picture books—this place has it all and the friendly KBB staff couldn’t be more helpful. They even have coffee table books for “lookers” and a huge collection of new and “recycled” romances. Get on their newsletter for to keep up with author signings and special events. 
BRAZOS BOOK STORE is a great place for those reader who are more inclined to literary fiction and specialized non-fiction. A book of poetry for your English teacher aunt, maybe? A memoir or biography? Or perhaps you want an off-beat suggestion for an intellectual on your list. Browse the staff suggestions online and check out their signed books for something a little special.
Sure, I still love my Kindle and my husband will have a gift card from Amazon in his stocking to download his beloved Lee Childs’ thrillers to his iPad. But for real shopping, an independent bookstore is where I always go to buy the special gifts with a personal touch. Checks out my favorites and tell us if you have any wonderful bookstores in your area. What are your book gotta-buys this year? 


Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Great post, Lark. Blue Willow Books has a smart, hand-selling staff, a beautiful selection of children's books, plus plenty to interest grown-ups. It's the perfect place for me to shop for gifts for local friends and family.

For book gifts that go out-of-state, though, Amazon's free shipping is hard to beat.

Last week, booksellers railed against Amazon's December 10 promotion that awarded a five percent discount to shoppers who used a price-comparison app to scan an item in a brick-and-mortar store but turned around and bought the same item from Amazon. That promotion did NOT include books, but I'm sure it aggravated Academy, Best Buy, and Toys R Us as it included electronics, sporting goods, music, DVD's and toys.

Lark Howard said...

Love Blue Willow! It's a great place to buy children's and young adult books--and they have lots of signed copies, too.

I saw something about the Amazon promo and was appalled even if it didn't include books.

I find the staff at these indie bookstores always come up with an unusual book or one I wouldn't have thought of on my own. And I love being able to give a signed book, even if it isn't personalized. It feels more thoughtful to me...and I need the thoughtful points given how clueless I am.

Free shipping is great--I agree--and most of my gifts get shipped. I just figure the trade-off is worth it for me. And I get to wrap it and insert a personal card. I pretty much have the USPS online mailing thing down to a science and the mail carrier at my office is happy to take my domestic packages so I don't have to schlep them to the post office.

Sarah Andre said...

It's been a long time since I've been in a brick and mortar to purchase anything. Each of those times was prompted by my need to HAVE the book RIGHT NOW!

Sadly, time and again, they would not have it, but 'would be happy to order it' for me. Some helpful employees even called nearby partner bookstores who also didn't carry it, or they would have a copy but the store would be way out in Katy, TX.

I'd leave the store with that niggling sense of aggravation: "why did I just fight the traffic, scramble to find a parking space only to find I should have ordered online?!"

So, it's happened consecutively enough that I just don't bother with brick and mortar anymore. I do however still read books..tried a couple of Kindle novels, but nothing beats holding that paperback.

Book gift for me is Sue Grafton's newest: V is for Vengence. Great voice, humor and twists. Hope my husband found it in a local bookstore!

Lark Howard said...

Sarah,I happen to know you've purchased more than one book at MURDER BY THE BOOK at author signings in the past couple of years.(I was there!!) Ditto Katy Budget Books at WHRWA meetings and BLUE WILLOW at YA signings for Tera Lynn Childs and Sophie Jordan. You're a great supporter of local authors and the bookstores who promote them, even if you don't remember.

Although I agree that I'm often frustrated that B&N and the defunct Borders didn't have the books I'd gone there to buy, the indies give me a chance to discover something new, something I might not otherwise buy.

And while we're at it, I insist you go to see Elizabeth George with me at MURDER BY THE BOOK in January!!

Kay Hudson said...

Alas, most of the indie bookstores in the Clear Lake area have fallen away, although we still have B&N and a couple of stores in the mall (where I rarely go). And Half Price Books, thank goodness, where you can find older books. Jack and I used to spend Saturdays searching bookstore and flea markets for goodies, both for research and recreation. I do try to buy from Katy Budget Books at the West Houston meetings, but the store is about fifty miles from me, so I don't get out there very often. Back when I had a bigger Christmas list I always started with bookstores, and I still think of books first.

Lark Howard said...

At least your office is close to some good indies, Kay--in case of emergency.

I've had great luck finding favorite authors' backlists and off-beat reference books at Half Price Books, although not all locations are created equal. The Montrose store has a noticeably different selection from the Rice Village location. Guess which I visited to research voodoo and Santeria for the WIP. :-)