The Austin metropolitan area is home to many bookstores you can enjoy by yourself or with the family to celebrate Book Lovers Day – large and small, general and specialized, North and South and everywhere in between. Here are some of Austin’s must-visit bookstores that keep your book loving dollars in the local economy and support Austin businesses.
BookPeople – Downtown Austin| 6th and Lamar
BookPeople is Texas’s largest independent bookstore and has been keeping Austin reading since 1970. BookPeople has multiple reading programs for adults, teens, and kids. An entire half of the second floor is dedicated to books for children and young adults, including the BookKids amphitheater where free kids’ story time happens every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Fiction, unique gifts, and the CoffeePeople Café can be found on the first floor. Onsite parking is free in the store lot and the adjacent parking garage. If in-store shopping (or venturing downtown) isn’t your speed, BookPeople.com has easy online ordering and ships worldwide.
Lark & Owl Booksellers – Georgetown | 205 6th St
Small but mighty – woman-owned Lark & Owl Booksellers in downtown Georgetown is about to celebrate its 3rd anniversary. The store has an impressive selection of children’s books from board books to YA graphic novels, an adorable kids’ reading nook, and a play loft with toys and a large chalkboard for the little ones to enjoy while parents browse… or grab a something from the work-in-progress Lark & Owl Bistro (it’s a small enough to store to dispel worries about losing a wandering kid). Morning story time in the book nook is Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Storefront parking is limited, but there is a large free parking lot across 6th street. Lark & Owl hosts “bookstore after dark” events with booze on a monthly basis – the next is August 27. The store is closed on Mondays. If you can’t find your next book love in store, you can order online while supporting Lark & Owl through Bookshop.org.
Black Pearl Books – North Austin | 7112 Burnet Rd
New(ish) to Austin’s bookstore landscape is Black-owned Black Pearl Books. Husband-and-wife duo Eric & Katrina Brooks moved into the Burnet storefront location February 2022 after 2 years inside Ten Thousand Villages, and have made headlines and loyal customers ever since (they were also in a T-Pain video once). The store includes a deliberately diverse selection of books for both children and adults, including a wall of free community bookshelves: take one, leave one – a little free library on a larger scale. Black Pearl Books is open Tuesday through Sunday and has a loyalty program that may prove dangerous for Austin’s book lovers, especially since they have in-store and online ordering for books, bookish merchandise, and gift cards. 1st time visitors get a free sticker and drawstring bag. Burnet-adjacent parking is limited to a handful of spaces, but additional free parking lurks out back.
Reverie Books – South Austin | 5330 Menchaca Rd
Neighbor to Captain Quackenbush, queer- and woman-owned Reverie Books in South Austin just won a 2022 Best of Austin award for “Best Tiny Bookshop” from the Austin Chronicle. Reverie has an eclectic mix of new and used books, and one of the best selections of YA fiction and nonfiction in the city. Their section of children’s books is small and consists mostly of used books, but my kids always find some gems… when I can pry them away from playing with the locally handmade toys and other pretty things sold in the store. Parking is plentiful, except during large events at Quack’s. Reverie Books is closed on Mondays. Reverie also uses Bookshop.org for online orders.
BookWoman – Central Austin | 55th & Lamar
BookWoman is Austin’s original feminist bookstore and has been around nearly as long as BookPeople. While it joins Reverie Books in the “tiny bookshop” category, it has an impressive selection of feminist books, several sub-genres of queer fiction and non-fiction, and a children’s book section comprising a good mix of classic favorites and modern narratives. BookWoman is open 7 days a week and is also queer- and woman-owned. In addition to books, BookWoman sells a wide array of Pride apparel and accessories. Owner Susan Post never forgets the authors she hosts events for (she remembered me after a decade between books) or familiar customers. Storefront parking is limited, especially if you don’t enjoy backing out of an angled spot onto Lamar, but the adjacent lots have an adequate number of minivan-worthy spots. Book lovers can order hardback and paperback books online from ebookwoman.com and audiobooks through Libro.fm.
Half Price Books – multiple locations| North Lamar, South Lamar, Southpark Meadows, Lakeline, Wells Branch
With new hardback books averaging around $30 apiece, Half Price Books is the place to be for book lovers who love a bargain. Half Price Books carries a limited selection of new books, but its bread and butter is popular used books in good condition (they’ll even buy yours… but don’t expect a ton of Happy Meal money). My kids’ favorite feature of the South Lamar store is the section of Little Golden Books priced $2 or less. All Austin-area Half Price Books are open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., have ample parking, and offer curbside pickup. Note that the San Marcos location recently closed its doors.
More To Explore:
- For our neighbors East of the metro: The Painted Porch Bookshop in Bastrop
- For rare, collectible, and vintage books: South Congress Books on South Congress
- For fiction, non-fiction and poetry collections (a lot of them) published by small independent presses: Malvern Books on 29th & Rio Grande
- For more bargain books (and games, and other media): Recycled Reads (Austin Public Library) on Burnet
- Barnes & Noble’s three Austin locations: Sunset Valley, The Arboretum, and the Hill Country Galleria
And remember my guiding rule for life: wherever you go, whatever you do, bring baby wipes and a book!