Saturday, April 04, 2009

Majors Books - 100 Years and Counting

I’m sitting in a local hospital with my dad who is suffering a severe case of double-pneumonia – a fairly dangerous situation for an 87-year-old. He’s having a bad reaction to some of the medicine so I will be here indefinitely, it seems (as I have been since Thursday afternoon). The good news, though, is that the hospital has a nice WiFi server working and I’ll be able to keep myself from going completely stir-crazy by making good use of the tiny Acer Eee PC that I bought a couple of months ago.

That said, I noticed an interesting article in the Houston Chronicle this morning about one of Houston's most unique independent bookstores, Majors Books. Majors is located in the heart of the Houston Medical Center area and has served the medical profession down there very well since 1954. According to the article, though, Majors was actually founded in Dallas over 100 years ago. Obviously things are tougher for Majors in this age, but the stores have adapted and are hanging on pretty nicely.

From the Houston Chronicle:

In the age of, it’s hard being a family-owned bookstore. But Majors Books has managed to survive for a century by offering special services to its customers, opening the store to events and adapting to the online world.

It resembles a model that the American Booksellers Association believes other independent bookstores should follow if they want to survive in this digital age of Kindles and iPods, where books can be purchased and downloaded in seconds.

Majors’ two stores, in Houston and Dallas, are among the largest medical bookstores in the U.S. Majors also sells medical equipment and scrubs.

Despite the emergence of medical information on the Internet, many health science professionals still prefer a book, said Roger Torres, the Houston store’s general manager.

“They still want to hold and feel a book, particularly the older doctors,” he said. “Just being able to pull out that book when you need it.”
Majors’ Houston and Dallas stores post combined annual sales in the $6 million range, he said.

“The online challenge to independent bookstores is still strong,” stronger than what they face from major bookstore chains, said Meg Smith, spokeswoman for the American Booksellers Association.

“The independents still doing well have strong ties to the community and regularly hold events in the stores,” she said.
I've lived in Houston 37 years and have never been inside Majors Books - but I would grieve its loss to the community. Judging strictly by the tone of this article, Majors will be around for years to come..deservedly so, I think.


  1. You know, I bet it's an interesting store to browse through. I've found bookstores that cater to things I have no real interest in turn out to be very interesting places.

    I hope your dad is back on his feet soon, too.

  2. It's not a part of town I get to very often, C.B. so I've never found the occasion to stop at the store but you are likely to be right - all bookstores are fun. I've spent hours in foreign language bookstores and have no idea yet what some of the books were really about.

    Thanks for the good wishes concerning my father - he's a bit better today so we may have turned the corner, finally.