Avid readers may want to check out The Hard to Find Book Store
- Written by Patsy Oliver
Local shop has thousands to choose from Photo: Fran Morris is not hard to find at The Hard to Find Book Store. She and husband John have been in the book business in Humble for 16 years. Photo by Patsy Oliver The smell of old books and the sound of soft violin music greet visitors to Humble’s Hard to Find Book Store. For those who are wondering if the shop is filled with elusive reads or is just hard to locate, the answer has been both. Fran Morris and her husband, John, first opened the shop in 1992, then called Beacon Book Stand. Their store was hard for people to locate, and they soon became known as “the hard to find bookstore.” Their first store was in a building constructed in 1914. Fran said she loved the place – slanted floors, wavy windows and all. But they soon outgrew it. They moved to their current location off First Street 10 years ago, so now they are not so far off the beaten path. Fran says that they left “bookstore” as two words in their name, so people can interpret it as they please. When they first decided to start a business of their own, Fran and John were not sure what it would be. And then the answer seemed obvious. “Two months after we starting dating, it was Christmas. I gave him two books, and he gave me two books,” said Fran. She said that they started with about 600 books from their own collection. They now have about 45,000 books for sale at the shop, with 11,000 available online through several Web sites including AbeBooks.com, TomFolio.com, and Amazon.com. “Our house looks like this,” said Fran, holding her arms out toward the seemingly endless stacks of reading material. The shop carries just about every category one could look for, from engineering to history, biographies to fiction, crime to Christian. Fran said that their best-sellers are Christian and history books. They also have a collection of signed books, as well as a grouping of old maps, magazines and videos. An online reviewer wrote, “I found a book there that my mother had been looking for over 15 years. She was thrilled that I got the book for her. They have lots of great books ... old ones and some newer books. The staff is friendly, always have a smile on their face and helpful in finding the book you are looking for, even doing a search online if need be.” Fran said that they have a lot of repeat customers, but also see new faces every day. They buy books from customers, estate sales and a variety of other locations, and also trade books with customers. They will trade fiction titles but do not buy them. The majority of their books are nonfiction. The price is usually half the original price and, as has been their policy for a while, they take another 20 percent off. Teachers and ministries, such as churches and nonprofits, get a 25 percent discount. Another rarity at the shop is sheet music – lots and lots of sheet music. Fran said that John, a musician, found that it was hard to get sheet music, so he started buying it where he could. One day he was out of town and went to an estate sale, where he bought eight boxes of sheet music. The store is categorized, with one section just for engineering books and another for Christmas books. Of all 45,000, there are very few duplicates. Visitors can browse downstairs and also take the spiral staircase up to look through two more rooms, filled floor to ceiling. The Hard to Find Book Store is located at 1307 E. First Street in Humble. Store hours are Monday from noon to 6 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are closed Sundays. For more information, call 281-446-9663.