Beloved Austin bookstore Malvern Books to close on New Year’s Eve

A beloved Austin bookstore is making the difficult choice to close its doors for good. December 31 will be the final day for the UT campus-adjacent bookstore Malvern Books, which specializes in poetry and independently published literature.

The store’s manager, Becky Garcia, posted about the closure on Malvern Books’ website, noting that the death of founder Joe Bratcher due to complications related to COVID-19 this summer ushered in the end of the business.

“On July 28th of this year, we lost Joe. I can’t tell you how hard it has been to try and carry on in this space without him. Our little Malvern world has not been the same since, and, as much as we love this store and our amazing customers, Malvern Books simply cannot continue without our Joe,” Garcia writes.

Though Malvern opened less than a decade ago, it felt like the kind of place that would have survived and thrived in a different era of Austin. Aside from the emergence of Amazon and the downturn in physical bookstores over the last decade-plus, Malvern Books was idiosyncratic even among its peers, putting an emphasis on, as its website reads, “lesser-known and emerging voices the world needs to hear.”

Garcia’s note mentions the difficulties in navigating the pandemic, noting that curbside shopping, purchasing by appointment, and Zoom book clubs kept the store afloat for a time. Garcia writes that there will be specials and sales to come, and praises the spirit of independent booksellers in Austin and beyond.

“But, most importantly, we hope to see you in the store sometime soon, to say goodbye and to thank you, both for being the readers that you are and because you have come with us on this incredibly fulfilling journey in Joe’s world,” she concludes.

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