A surge of online booksellers has left some brick and mortar bookstore owners wondering whether old school words on paper are down for the count, but a counter surge of independent thinkers and bookstores around Dallas are hellbent on preserving open thought and culture.
314 W. Eighth St.
The Wild Detectives, which opened in 2014, takes its name from Roberto Bolaño’s Los Detectives Salvajes [The Savage Detectives]. The startup bookstore launched with the goal of curating “all those things that matter, those serious pleasures which turn life into experience,” according to its website. Yet those serious pleasures aren’t so serious, as shown by a cartoon on the coffee menu asking, “Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?”
The Wild Detectives are also splendid booze vendors. In a University of Texas at Arlington TedX Talk, co-founder Javier Garcia del Moral said that the decision to put a bar in the bookstore was based on the concept of getting people together in a social setting to generate intellectual conversation.
“We want to encourage people to hang out and tell their stories,” he said. “Read books, hang out and share your voice.” To help with that, from 6 p.m. Friday until closing time Sunday, the store has a no internet policy.
Below is a chat with Wild Detectives' brand director Andres de la Casa Huertas.
Observer: Do you serve local craft beer, and if so, what kind?
De la Casa Huertas: Yes. We try to have a balanced offer of beer types, like Four Corners’ Local Buzz (Rye Golden Ale), Revolver’s Blood & Honey and Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer (both American Ales) or Martin House’s Cellerman’s Reserve (IPA), among others.
Can you talk a little about beer o’clock?
Beer o’clock is something Stephen King used to say regarding the time when he stops writing and wraps up the working day. We think that after work is the perfect time to meet somebody and have a bit of a chat and a drink to decompress. That’s why around dusk we dim our lights and raise up the volume of the music. We just want to have the perfect atmosphere for people to unwind a bit.
What genre of records and books do you sell mostly?
Our records selection is quite eclectic, going from pop-rock classics to indie, hip-hop, jazz, even contemporary classic. It’s all about the music. If it’s good, it doesn’t matter the genre. Regarding books we sell mainly contemporary fiction. We also have a poetry section and a children's books section. And last, but not least, we sell books in Spanish by Latin American and Spanish authors. Our shop isn’t big, so finely curating our selection of books and records becomes key to our business.
Do you have a particular customer demographic?
Not really, and we’re quite happy about it. Our customers are very diverse and their age span goes from students to seniors. I’d say the interest in culture would be the main common denominator.
What kind of events do you host at the bookstore?
We host a lot of events going from readings to music shows, poetry, plays, even tastings. Our main goal is to promote those local artists/authors that are putting fantastic work out there.
Are you pretty much open to all collaborative ideas?
Pretty much. We’re so grateful to all those people who’ve come to us with their projects, like Shakespeare in the Bar, Bar Politics, Bonehouse or Dark Moon Poetry. They are the ones who put us on the map.
What is your favorite genre, personally?
Well, I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but I like novels and nonfiction with insights about the human condition. I don’t care about plots; give me good food for thought instead.
The Tattered Jacket
125 Historic Town Square, Lancaster
This indie bookseller in Lancaster specializes in rare, used and out-of-print, hard-to-find books. The Tattered Jacket offers bibliophiles a home-like atmosphere with free tea and coffee, according to its website.
Pan-African Connection Bookstore
4466 S. Marsalis Ave.
Akwete Tyehimba opened the Pan-African Connection Bookstore and Resource Center in Dallas with her husband in 1989. Their mission, according to a GoFundMe page, was to “organize and educate the community about the beauty and dignity of African people and their culture.”
The bookstore’s literature, clothing, shea butter and other cultural items carry out that mission. “It’s a challenge having a black bookstore,” Tyehimba said. ”But it’s good.”
200 N. Locust Drive, Denton
Recycled Books has been serving bibliophiles in Denton since 1983. The bookstore opened in its current location, a former opera house, after moving from a space near Texas Woman’s University in 1990.
“Since moving to the Opera House, Recycled has been a cornerstone of Denton’s Square and an icon of the town’s independent and arts-loving spirit,” according to its website.
Books, records, CDs and collectible items like a signed first printing of Andy Warhol’s Exposures can be found among the store’s nearly half a million treasures. In addition to its historic storefront on the town square, this bookseller also has items for sale online at Amazon, eBay and Discogs.
6620 Snider Plaza
Logos bookstore has been part of the Dallas community since 1974. This bookseller offers a variety of handpicked books, cards, music and gifts, according to its website, “with the hope that they will foster gracious, loving and joyful living.”
Deep Vellum Books
3000 Commerce St.
Anne Hollander left the corporate world and got on board with Deep Vellum Books earlier this year. “I am so glad I made the change,” she said. ”The fulfillment has just been entirely phenomenal and unexpected.”
Hollander said Deep Vellum embraces the idea of free thought and the community has been totally supportive of the venture.
Although the corner bookstore is still searching for its niche, she said plans are already in the works for expansion, maybe in North Texas, perhaps beyond, someplace like Tulsa or Abilene. “We’re not just going to pick up this model and drop it down somewhere,” she said. “We want to be informed by the community."
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Lucky Dog Books and Paperbacks Plus
10801 Garland Road and 911 W. Jefferson Blvd.; 108 E. Davis St., Mesquite
Known today as Lucky Dog Books and Paperbacks Plus, these independent booksellers have been keeping book lovers happy here in Dallas for more than 40 years.
Half Price Books
From a used bookstore in an old Dallas laundromat, Half Price Books Inc. has grown to more than 100 locations around the country but remains a family-owned chain, according to its website.
The booksellers’ mission is to “be fair to customers and our employees, promote literacy, be kind to the environment and remain financially viable so we may continue.” Half Price Books has continued since 1972.
207 N. Tennessee St., McKinney
Located in a century-old building on the historic downtown square of McKinney, The Book Gallery houses more than 10,000 good reads. According to Abebooks.com, this book peddler specializes in classic fiction, history, modern fiction, military, science fiction, Texana and children's literature.