In 1987, Larry McMurtry opened a bookstore in his hometown of Archer City, Texas. The author of books including The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove (which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1986), McMurtry collects rare books. He had spent years as a bookseller in Houston and Washington, D.C., acquiring a massive collection of secondhand books along the way.
That collection found a home in Archer City, a quiet town of just under 2,000 people. Booked Up began as one store, but over the next decade McMurtry bought up vacant storefronts on Archer City’s town square and filled them with hundreds of thousands of books. The inventory of used, rare, and antiquated titles filled four separate buildings at its peak, a total of some 450,000.
In 2012, McMurtry decided to downsize. He organized an event called “The Last Book Auction”—a reference to his 1966 novel and 1971 film, which was inspired by and filmed in Archer City. The event drew crowds from across the country, and over the course of three days about 300,000 books were sold.
But Booked Up isn’t gone. It’s smaller now, consisting of two buildings managed by polite and welcoming staff. In addition to the books for sale, McMurtry’s many awards and achievements are on display in the rare book room, including his Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.
Know Before You Go
Booked Up is open Thursday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday by appointment. It is closed on Sundays.