Texian Books held a grand opening Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bethune decided to open Texian Books in part to fill the gap left when Hastings closed in 2016.


A new independent bookstore, located in a historic home at 408 W. Forrest Street, opened in Victoria, Texas on Thursday with plans to provide a community-oriented space for local readers.


“People can come and read and stay as long as they’d like,” Eveline Bethune, the store’s owner and founder, told the Victoria Advocate. “It’s set up just like my house would be, so it really feels like a home.”


Bethune decided to open Texian Books in part to fill the gap left when Hastings closed in 2016.


Texian Books is beginning with a small inventory of about 800 titles and will be open three days each week. Visits are by appointment only because the store is in a residential neighborhood, but Bethune said customers can make appointments via Facebook.


The bookstore’s selection ranges from contemporary fiction to children’s literature and includes a sizable section dedicated to books about Texas or by Texas authors. The store also offers e-books and audio books and will order titles on request.


Texian is opening in a time when local bookstores are bucking the nationwide trend of retail stores struggling to compete with Amazon and other online retailers.


One of the main indicators of local bookstores’ success is the increasing membership numbers for the American Booksellers Association and its regional affiliates, including Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association. Heather Duncan, the executive director for the regional association, said local bookstores have seen steady success in recent years. Sales at the American Booksellers Association were up almost five percent last year compared to 2017, according to the group’s data, and 2018 holiday sales showed particularly strong increases.


“I feel like the way that the independents have thrived, and have always thrived to some degree, is their real direct community involvement,” Duncan said, citing examples of bookstores that have found niche roles in their communities by opening coffee shops or bars along with the book-selling part of the business or developing robust event calendars to keep locals engaged.


That community involvement is an area where Texian Books hopes to play a large role, Bethune said. Texian will have a book club for adults and a story time geared toward toddlers. Bethune is also offering a customized subscription service, where customers can tell her about their favorite page-turners and she’ll select two books for them each month. Customers can purchase the books if they’re interested in the titles or else return them to Texian free of charge.


Bethune said Texian could expand its inventory or even relocate to Victoria’s downtown proper, just a few blocks away, depending on the community’s response.


Duncan, whose region covers Texas, said small Texas cities have proven capable of supporting local bookstores. She pointed to Absolutely Fiction in Lufkin, which has a population of about 35,000, and The Published Page in Cleburne, population 30,000. Independent stores’ small size can also work in their favor, Duncan said, giving them the flexibility to make quick and strategic decisions based on where a community’s interests lie.


Bethune said she hopes Texian provides both a community for Victoria readers and a place for them to escape.


Find Texian Books online at https://texianbooks.indielite.org/