Openings and Closings

Damn It, Amazon — Downtown McKinney’s Only Bookstore Closes

Farewell, The Book Gallery.
Farewell, The Book Gallery. Isabel Arcellana
Downtown McKinney's one bookstore, an independent shop called The Book Gallery, was open for 20 years before it closed last week.

Tucked away on North Tennessee Street, the store was usually filled with antique first-edition books, its owner sitting at a desk, paper in hand, with a black schnauzer named Abby at his feet. But this Tuesday, it was filled with boxes piled high, and the shelves were being sold.

The shop’s owner, Jim Parker, was taping boxes together and giving directions for shipment. As some of his last customers walked in to peruse the store, he welcomed them. But the mood wasn’t jolly.

“You can blame it on Amazon if you want to. People are not reading books,” Parker says. “They’re going to fade out in the next 50 years.”


It’s no secret that bookstores are dying. According to statista.com, the number of bookstores in the U.S. went from about 38,000 in 2004 to approximately 28,000 in 2012. That number is expected to fall further in 2018. By the end of this year, only about 22,000 will remain.

Parker acknowledges that publishers are having to shut down operations or cut the number of books produced because people are reading digital versions instead of paper. Often, digital books are cheaper. And book culture has "been changing rapidly over the last few years,” Parker says.

He originally opened the shop because he had a lot of books in his personal collection.

“I wanted a store where I could sell them,” Parker says. “I had first-edition Hemingways, etc.”


click to enlarge Even the shelves are for sale. - ISABEL ARCELLANA
Even the shelves are for sale.
Isabel Arcellana

Parker says he's had people come into the store, see a century-old Shakespeare and look up a cheaper version on Amazon. His passion and frustration are evident.

Parker’s wife, Dee, on the other hand, says the store had a good run.

“It’s time,” she says. Her husband recently turned 80.

When the couple set up shop in a century-old building in McKinney Square, most of the neighbors were antique stores or shops selling candy and coffee. Now, the square is home to a bustling restaurant scene, which includes Dallas favorites such as Emporium Pies and the award-winning restaurant Harvest.

Parker said he was shipping most of the books in the store to some of the last antique book shops he knows of in the area.

Although Dallas has seen a resurgence of independent bookstores within city limits, like The Wild Detectives and Interabang Books, but Parker is not hopeful for the future of bookstores and book culture.

“People can just start buying books,” he says. “But they’re not going to.”
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Isabel Arcellana has been writing for the Observer since spring 2018 and has been creating fake newspapers for her mom since she was 8. She graduated from SMU with a double major in journalism and fashion media. Her five guitars are named after High School Musical characters.