Opt for Books from Local, Alternative Shops for Gifts This Year
Books can make the best gifts. They can be as personal as a rare, first edition favorite or as impersonal as a selection from the New York Times Bestseller List. As with all presents, the more personal you get, the more appreciated the book.
This year, avoid the urge to simply click away on Amazon.com to fulfill your book-buying gift needs, and instead hit up one of the many independent booksellers in Austin. With the kinds of specialization these stores offer, you’re sure to walk away with a very personalized gift and maybe even something for yourself.
We all know about BookPeople, the city’s landmark independent bookstore, so I’ll leave that one out and mention a few lesser-known stores. Let’s jump right in:
12th Street Books has gone through a few iterations since first opening in 1992, but it’s always been a place to find rare printings. This store specializes in first editions, fine bindings, small-press books and books about and by Texas authors. This is the perfect place to find a gift for a book collector or for the person on your list who already has everything. The store is by appointment only.
BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar, is a bookseller specializing in not only feminist literature but also in LGBT titles, as well as books on cooking, writing and a variety of other subjects. The store opened more than 30 years ago and is one of only a small handful of independent feminist bookstores across the United States. In addition to a great selection of books, the store also sells gift items like calendars, cards and T-shirts and features a local authors section.
Brave New Books, 1904 Guadalupe St., describes itself as” one the world's largest and most varied libraries of suppressed information.” True to this description, books here fall into categories like “Suppressed Science,” “History and Secrecy” and “Drug War.” The store offers a group meeting space and even offers Survival Skills Package of classes to make sure you’re ready when … you know, the shit goes down.
Part art gallery, part bookstore Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez, specializes in writings about contemporary art, literature and culture. The store also features a local selection of self-published zines and writings, as well as a collection of vinyl toys. To give a gift that keeps on giving, pick up one of the store’s book club books as a gift – the friend can read the book and then visit the store for the book club meeting.
MonkeyWrench, 110 E. North Loop, is a volunteer-run, cooperatively owned bookstore specializing in radical books, magazines, movies and zines on topics like politics, feminism, history, economic development and much more. The store hosts film screenings, meetings and book clubs and is a good place to find books you might not find in more general stores.
Recycled Reads, 5335 Burnet, is the bookstore of the Austin Public Library and saves outdated and overstocked library items from the landfill to the tune of 12 tons per month. Gently used items here range from paperback science fiction novels to hardcover bestsellers to a host of children’s books, all for $2 and under. The store occasionally has rare and first-edition items for sale.
Founded almost 20 years ago, Resistencia Bookstore, 1801 S. First Street, sells books about and promotes awareness of human rights, social justice movements, the struggles of indigenous peoples, and Native American and Latino interests. They also feature some rare and out-of-print books on these topics and host educational events and poetry readings.