Books-A-Million Bailing out of Houston Pavilions

Update, 1/4: Reverse! Books-A-Million is gonna stay put.

Southeastern U.S. chain Books-A-Million has decided to close its Downtown Houston store on January 15th. The decision has left management of Houston Pavilions feeling rather put-out: Managers at the downtown mall reportedly had lowered the bookstore’s rent on the 2-story, approximately 23,000-sq.-ft. space facing the light rail line at 1201 Main St. to just $3,000 a month — in hopes the concession would prevent it from shutting down. A source insists the store “wasn’t a huge flop,” but says that the Katy Mills Mall Books-A-Million typically brought in more than 5 times the sales of the Downtown store — even though the 2 locations are about the same size.

Another factor that may have played a role in Books-A-Million’s decision to close: A pending lawsuit filed against the company after the location’s former manager reportedly kicked a man and his wheelchair-riding, apparently mentally disabled son out of the store. “At some point [the son] soiled himself and the [manager] took this as a vagrance and kicked them out. Needless to say the boy’s family were outraged,” a source tells Swamplot. The manager is no longer with the company, though reportedly for “unrelated” reasons.


Most customers of the Downtown store were people who worked Downtown; the store never drew many shoppers from its Pavilions neighbors, which included literary hotspots House of Blues, XXI Forever and Lucky Strike. Nights and weekends at the bookstore were desolate. And now the store will be gone before any bookish Scott Gertner fans can spark a turnaround. Will a blowout book sale bring on the crowds for a grand finale? Don’t count on it: Most in-stock books will likely be sent back to the warehouse; most non-book items have already been discounted.

Photos: Books-A-Million

16 Comment

  • I work a couple of blocks away and never realized it existed.

  • The Pavillions biggest problem is the building itself. The ground floor space should hvne been made of a glass curtain wals a la New york City and Chicago. Nobody can tell its even a mall. If you didn’t live here and know about the place you would pass it by…..

  • Curtain Wall… sorry about the errors!

  • The Houston Pavilions: Bringing upscale strip mall restaurants to downtown.

  • The City did a development agreement with the developer of the Pavillions. Taxpayers helped pay for the pedestrian walkways and paid for the infrastructure improvements needed. The City thinks it was a great investment because the office space got completely leased out. However, it looks like the retail shoe is beginning to drop. I just don’t see this place surviving. Who would want to lease one of the inner retail space when you cannot be seen from the street? It is just a matter of time before the retail goes the way of the Park Shops k/n/a Houston Center.

  • How does this fit into the suburbanites-are-rubes but urbanites-are-erudite model? Surely all those Katy books sold were bibles. Bibliophiles don’t live in the suburbs I’m told.

  • This was mentioned before with the Pavilions…but worth mentioning again—who designed the layout? I agree with other posters—if you drive by you hardly notice the Pavilions exist. The stores face inward so things may be noticeable if your passing (i.e. walking) through it….but not if you’re driving by from the streets. This is Houston…we don’t exactly walk outside. If the Pavilions had the resources, they should spend it on revamping the outside so people can see what businesses are there from the streets.

  • CV- Actually, considering the heavy Christian Conservative slant of Books-A-Million, it isn’t all that surprising to see it fail inside the loop but thrive in Katy-Land. After all, why would any Lib inside the Loop shop there when there’s the Brazos Bookstore (a Houston treasure) just a few miles away?

  • Doofus – given how well the Books-A-Million in Dupont Circle, DC does I don’t think your theory holds.

    I work downtown and had no idea it was there… but I only set foot in the Pavilions about a week ago. The place feels like a giant blank spot in the middle of downtown – I just forget that it’s there unless I pass right by it.

  • me love reading cereal boxes…. weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • Instead of complaining and whining perhaps go patronize a business at the Pavillions and help be part of the solution! AND you get to try a new place out and liven up your day a little bit.

  • You call it whining and complaining, I call it observing. Every time I do pass the Pavilions I think, “OMG, that’s there, I had forgotten.” It’s unfortunate. But there may be a lesson in design there that some future developer can apply.

  • Actually, “doofus” BAM does not have Christian Conservative slant. They have a “we are going to display and sell whatever is popular and will make us money” slant. This is the reason that you see so many ultra conservative titles and authors on display and as bestsellers… that is what is popular right now. Believe me, when Bush was on his way out and Obama on the way we had a ton of Liberal books out on display. (and we got the same complaints from the right wingers that there was no “balance”) If you know or speak to any of the associates at BAM, well any bookstore for that matter, you will find a vast majority are lefties who don’t enjoy putting those books out just much as you don’t like them staring you in face every time you walk in.

    And as far as this article is concerned, it is no longer accurate. BAM is not leaving the Pavilion.

  • I cannot stand BAM and this store in particular. I received a book from BAM as a Xmas gift, a paperback that cost $13. It was in perfect shape, never been read and had the BAM pricetag on it. Despite this, they would not allow me to exchange it for anything else.

    The Manager gal “Araceli” was completely useless and pretended to call her Regional Manger to ask for an exception to their return policy which allegedly dictates no returns or exchanges without a receipt. Needless to say, the RM allegedly declined to make an exception. So I am stuck with a brand new book about guitars that I will never read. Thanks BAM at the Pavilion.

    In a consumer oriented world, this place finishes dead last. It is fitting that they should close.

  • There is another bookstore a few blocks down that is more established. Also the Central Library with its newly renovated research center is several blocks in the other direction. Books -a- million is a visual appeal to intellectually stimulated pedestrians otherwise it is shadowed with the club style venues that surround it.

  • We have a BAM in Waterford,Ct and during the 012 election the books on display at the door were overwhelmingly pro Conservative and anti Obama.