Books-A-Million Now Packing Up Its Books, Leaving Houston Pavilions

Christmas Eve was the last day of business for Houston’s only Books-A-Million location, in the Houston Pavilions sorta-mall. Workers at the 1201 Main St. store are now packing the bookstore’s remaining inventory onto pallets (at left), which will be shipped off to the national chain’s warehouses or other locations. (That means there’ll be no goodbye sale.) Books-A-Million had threatened to leave the space back in January of 2011; a quickly arranged sweetened rent deal from its landlord allowed it to stay. But that agreement has now expired, and Pavilions has new owners: A group headlined by former LA Lakers point guard Magic Johnson bought the 3-block complex — out of bankruptcy — this past August.

Photos: Downtown Houston Management District (store); Swamplot inbox (pallets)

24 Comment

  • I hate to be the Grinch that always says, “Nothing makes it in downtown Houston, never will”.

  • A brick and mortar book store? In downtown Houston? On the Southeast side? Shocked it didn’t work out.

  • Book stores are barely making it as is. Out with the old in with the new. Hopefully the new tenant will be better.

  • E-readers killed that store faster than downtown did…

    I havent bought a physical book since I got an e-reader (technical specs not included)

  • Houston, we have a problem…. I’m not sure why downtown Houston is so lame. Perhaps its the tunnels that suck the life out. Downtown should be an amazing centerpiece for the entire region, or even the crown jewel of the South. By comparison, it seems to sit nearly idle while the suburbs expand at an alarming rate. I’ve been in Houston for four years now, and sure, there’s a few new towers (Discovery Green and Market Square parks are awesome!), but it seems that for every new business that opens, two close. I know no city is perfect, but why does Houston remain so painfully behind?

  • Purdueenginerd: Ironically, while I find myself to be a pretty tech savy guy (and aim for a 100% paperless office), I still like reading paper books vs. ebooks. Not sure why . Maybe it’s how much time I’m at my monitor. While eink is better than an LCD for reading, I still like reading on paper. Plus I like being able to see my books.

  • Is it possible that any place in our region that doesn’t have a huge field of suburban-style parking in front of it starts at a big disadvantage? Even patron reviews I read regarding otherwise popular places like Sugar Land Town Square and The Woodlands Town Center view having to park in a (free) garage and walk around the block as serious knock on those places. With the Pavilions garage requiring payment and the public sidewalks harboring the occasional homeless person, Pavilions might have an unavoidable disadvantage for many folks.

    Is free off-street surface parking and never having to set foot on a public sidewalk that essential to a quality experience in Houston? Doesn’t downtown, and the city, have more to offer? Certainly other large cities – even Los Angeles – do.

  • Two main reasons why downtown sucks: 1) everyone goes in the tunnels/skybridges which leave deserted streets (no street life) and 2) very small residential population which causes EVERYTHING to be pretty much dead (save for a few areas) on non work days.

    Not surprised at the closing, I wish there were more residential developments downtown to support this kind of thing.

  • @ DMan, too many homeless in downtown Houston

  • Weird. I never knew this bookstore even existed.

  • Too mant homeless. Don’t feel safe walking around at night.

  • some of you folks need to grow some balls.

  • Something fishy all around with this whole deal. Bookstores require easy access and probably a very high population density within a few miles in order to generate enough foot traffic to make sales. Why would the landlord want them as a tenant? Why would they want to be in an area with limited access and very low population density? Something rotten in Denmark.

  • The reason downtown hasn’t been too successful is the lack of residents living downtown and hotel space to help accommodate the businesses downtown.

    The Chapter 380 program has been implemented to help bring developers to build new apartment high-rises downtown. With the new complex going up next to Minute Maid Park and the new SkyHouse high-rise going up on main street, we will see if this brings in more development.

    Also, with the lack of hotel space, major conventions pass on Houston all of the time. Hopefully the new JW Marriott on Main st and the new 1,000 room Marriott Marquis next to Discovery Green will help draw more out of town conventions and business.

    This is just a start, but lets see if this helps downtown a few years from now…

  • Lets see…

    1) An incredibly healthy office market? CHECK

    2) A cultural hub that houses the city’s major art houses? CHECK

    3) A place to gather for parades and other events? CHECK

    4)A place with unique bars and restaurants? CHECK

    5) The best movie theater inside the Loop? CHECK

    6) A centralized location that is easily accessible? CHECK

    7) A growing population base? CHECK

    Yeah, downtown sure does suck… If only it could be as cool and unique as CityCentre or SugarLand Town Square, of the Woodlands…

  • Book stores need a supporting cast these days. There’s got to be other places around it that draw people. Coffee houses, tea houses, breakfast cafe that draws a weekend crowd, office workers for lunch during the week, collection of retail…the Pavillions has been slow to fill out. I like the space but there has not been enough to get me there on a regular basis.

  • Man I’m really starting to hate this city…

  • Before we all go slamming downtown, lets compare downtown to where it was pre-2000. No baseball stadium, no basketball arena, no soccer stadium, no Hobby Center, no Discovery Green or Market Square, no Phoenicia, and a crudy old YMCA. Also, let’s be clear that as a rule, retail generally does not work in city centers absent tons of tourist traffic and/or a large residential population with limited access to the burbs. And even when those conditions are present, the price to lease a ground floor location on a busy street like Michigan Ave, 5th Ave or Boylston St. is so astronomically high that the storefront is really just a working advertisement that gets people to go to the same store at their local mall when they come home from vacation.
    So, trying to make Downtown Houston into a shopping destination is utterly futile. It will never happen. The Galleria, River Oaks and the burbs are easier shopping destinations with way more to offer. Downtown’s best bet is to try to offer the fast growing number of innerloop residents entertainment, nightlife and dining options that are different and distinct from what is out there in Montrose, River Oaks and the Galleria. The central business district is a dud because all the restaurants are in the tunnel. Development of Dowtown Houston will be donut shaped, with attractions around the peripheries. The stadiums, convention center and Discovery Green on the east and Market Square/Main Street could connect with plans to revitalize the bayou on the North side of downtown. The south side of Downtown is a blank canvass ready for anything, but needs a park and ground floor friendly development.

  • tunnels, minimal residential, and not much hotel traffic. the latter two appear to be slowly changing. . .

  • Books-a-Million is pretty lame, that’s why it went out of business. Probably has nothing to with the quality of downtown, or the survivability of bookstores in general.

  • Remember the day when you wanted to meet a cute travel agent at a bookstore while reading a newspaper? Alas, none of those exist anymore.

  • Downtown has great infrastructure, amenities and venues, but a major problem is the close competition (midtown and Washington ave) that has developed blossoming entertainment areas. Certainly, a larger residential base would help and more conventions/tourism.

  • It’s really easy to get downtown if you have a car, a lot of patience and parking money. What Houston lacks is convenient public transportation so that one can get downtown on a single bus or train (maybe one transfer) on weekdays or especially weekends. I don’t see this happening soon.

  • The best case scenario is the LRT expansions to UH bring in college students.

    Even though it’s not ideal I think it would b e good for the city. Maybe people wanted yuppies but the yuppies seem to prefer other areas.