Bookstop (company)

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Successor Barnes & Noble
Founded Travis County, Texas (1982)
Founder Gary Hoover and Steve Mathews
Number of locations
(1989): 22
Key people
Patrick Spain
Revenue (1989): $65 million
The Alabama Theatre in the Upper Kirby area of Houston is a former Bookstop location

Bookstop Inc. was a Texas-based chain of bookstores that was at one time the fourth-largest bookselling chain in the United States.[1] In 1989 Barnes & Noble acquired the company, at which point it became a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble.[2] The chain also did business under the name Bookstar due to trademark conflicts in other states.

Business model[edit]

Laura J. Miller, author of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption, wrote that the chain "combined discounting with very wide selection, careful attention to display, and a reliance on sophisticated information systems in order to build a chain that would appeal to affluent, educated readers."[3] Jason Epstein, author of Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future, described the chain as being modeled on the supermarket concept.[4] Miller stated that the store format was "consciously" modeled after the format of the Toys "R" Us stores.[3] Laura Elder of the Houston Business Journal wrote that the chain "pioneered the superstore concept".[5] Hoover himself states that "While the execution of the idea was difficult and complex, the core idea was not. We simply took the retail business model of Toys R Us — giant single-category stores with large product selections and low prices — and applied it to books."[6]

Bookstop measured how well a title sold for 130 days after being placed on the shelves to decide whether to retain it in stores beyond that point. If the book was considered definitive in its field, it could remain even without strong sales.[7]


Bookstop opened in 1982, established by Gary Hoover and Steve Mathews.[5] Patrick Spain, who had attended university with Hoover, invested some of the original capital into the chain.[8] Its headquarters were in unincorporated Travis County, Texas, in Greater Austin (using an Austin postal address).[9][10] In 1989 the chain had a total of 22 stores in Texas, California, Florida, and Louisiana,[3] and about $65 million in annual sales.[8]

Barnes & Noble acquisition[edit]

In 1989 the board of Bookstop asked Hoover to step down from his position. That year, Hoover and a group of venture capitalists sold Bookstop to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million.[11] Barnes & Noble made the acquisition after a multi-month struggle with Crown Books, as both had purchased significant stakes in Bookstop with the aim of acquiring it. After Barnes & Noble completed the purchase, Crown sold its share away.[3]

Solveig Robinson, author of The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture, wrote that the purchase "gave [Barnes and Noble] the necessary know-how and infrastructure to create what, in 1992, became the definitive bookselling superstore."[12] Miller wrote that Bookstop was "a key part of Barnes & Noble's early superstore efforts."[3] After the acquisition, Bookstop-branded stores continued to exist, and Barnes & Noble became Bookstop's parent company.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Hoover Joins McCombs School as Entrepreneur-in-Residence" (Archive). University of Texas at Austin. September 9, 2009. Retrieved on April 7, 2014. "In 1982, Hoover founded Austin-based Bookstop, which grew to be the fourth largest bookstore chain in the nation before being acquired by Barnes & Noble in 1989."
  2. ^ Long, Elizabeth. Book Clubs: Women and the Uses of Reading in Everyday Life. University of Chicago Press, August 1, 2003. ISBN 0226492621, 9780226492629. p. 76. "Now Bookstop (a Texas-based division of Barnes & Noble),[...]"
  3. ^ a b c d e Miller, Laura. Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. University of Chicago Press, September 15, 2008. ISBN 0226525929, 9780226525921. p. 50.
  4. ^ Epstein, Jason. Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future. W. W. Norton & Company, January 17, 2002. ISBN 0393322343, 9780393322347. p. 160.
  5. ^ a b c Elder, Laura. "Barnes & Noble ends self-competition by closing Bookstop store." Houston Business Journal. November 17, 1997. Retrieved on April 7, 2014. "Bookstop pioneered the superstore concept when Gary Hoover and Steve Mathews formed the Austin chain in 1982."
  6. ^ Hoover, Gary. "Two key skills for entrepreneurial thinkers, leaders to have." Austin Business Journal. September 14, 2012. p. 2. Retrieved on April 7, 2014.
  7. ^ Bucholz, p. 157. "Books that don't do well within their first 130 days are kept on Bookstop's shelves if they are the definitive book on a subject. The chain measures the rate of return.[...]"
  8. ^ a b Solomon, Steve. "The Dynamic Duo." Inc.. October 15, 1997. Retrieved on April 7, 2014. "In 1981, however, when Hoover started Bookstop, the nation's first chain of superstores for discount books, he renewed his partnership with Spain, who invested some of the initial capital."
  9. ^ Arny, Rose. Forthcoming Books - Volume 25, Issue 3. R.R. Bowker Company, 1990. p. 1513. "Dist. by: Bookstop. Inc., 6106 Baldwin, Austin. TX 78724 (SAN 630-4087)"
  10. ^ "Generalized Zoning Map." City of Austin. Retrieved on April 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Calnan, Christopher. "Gary Hoover likens biz creation to craftsmanship." Austin Business Journal. August 13, 2013. Retrieved on April 7, 2014. "Hoover knows of what he speaks. He founded book superstore Bookstop Inc., which was acquired by Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million,[...]"
  12. ^ Robinson, Solveig. The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture. Broadview Press, November 15, 2013. ISBN 1770484310, 9781770484313. p. 260.


  • Bucholz, Barbara B. and Margaret Cran. "Bookstop, Austin, TX." In: Bucholz, Barbara B. Corporate Bloodlines: The Future of the Family Firm (A Lyle Stuart book). Carol Publishing Group, 1989. ISBN 0818405074, 9780818405075. p. 145-159 - This book has a chapter on Bookstop

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