After years of battling big-name book retailers and e-readers—we're looking at you, Amazon and Barnes & Noble—people assumed independent bookstores would continue to decline and disappear.

On the contrary.

The industry is actually thriving, showing steady growth in number of stores and retail sales over the past several years, according to the American Booksellers Association. Houston is home to several of these outstanding indie shops that local book lovers of all ages flock to for author signings, readings, book clubs and back-to-school shopping. Take a page from our book, and support one of these local institutions this fall.

Brazos Bookstore

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Brazos Bookstore mindfully curates its shelves with everything from classics and new releases to children’s books and coffee table staples. Since 1974, this local star has been a pillar in the community, hosting events like author readings and signings, monthly book clubs, parties and story time for kids. Not sure what your next novel should be? The handwritten reviews by staffers that line the shelves are endearing, funny, and—as always—helpful. 2421 Bissonnet St. brazosbookstore.com

Murder by the Book

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Established in 1980, Murder by the Book is one of the oldest and largest specialty bookstores still operating in the US, stocking more than 25,000 new and used books in the mystery, crime/detective, suspense/thriller and fantasy genres. Free author signings and book club meetings are regular events at this one-of-a-kind indie bookstore, whose quirky themed décor, cozy atmosphere and experienced staff will have mystery-loving Houstonians coming back for more. 2342 Bissonnet St. murderbooks.com

Blue Willow Bookshop

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Blue Willow Bookshop opened its West Houston doors in 1996 and continues to serve book-lovers of all ages. Although there are plenty of events and merchandise for adults, this indie bookstore shines with several kid-specific activities, like weekly story times and a monthly book club for middle school-aged girls. With books and gift items displayed in every nook and cranny, one could easily explore this little shop’s treasures for hours. 14532 Memorial Dr. bluewillowbookshop.com 

River Oaks Bookstore

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For decades, River Oaks Bookstore has established itself as a neighborhood treasure with its dedicated patrons and focus on local authors. Upon entering the charming shop, you're hit with the distinct smell of books. For a relatively small space, this bookstore packs an impressive number of books of all genres and for all ages. Visitors are encouraged to browse the shelves, take a seat and make themselves at home with complimentary cookies and coffee. 3270 Westheimer Rd. riveroaksbookstore.com

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