Texoma Icon Auctioning 300,000 Books

Folks in Archer City aren't used to seeing cars from California, New Mexico, Louisiana and especially ones from Wisconsin. But when award winning author and Texoma legend Larry McMurtry puts up 300,000 books for auction lines quickly start forming.

One buyer we spoke with on Friday said he came just because he's a big fan of the native Archer City writer. He said, "I got him to autograph a book for my uncle whose a big Lonesome Dove fan."

Another bidder said, "If they had this kind of book sale where they amassed 300,000 volumes of books anywhere I probably would show up to try and get something."

Other bidders went to stock their own shelves. A couple from Austin said, "Several hundred thousand books being for sale? We have a used bookstore so were always looking for more inventory."

McMurtry's 4 bookstores, collectively named Booked Up have been a staple in the Archer City square for more than 20 years. At 76 years old, McMurtry said he's just amassed too many books. He said it was time for many of them to be seen by new eyes.

McMurtry said, "We're a kind of anthology of bookshops past. We have parts of, the remnants of the stocks of 26 book shops." Even though 3 of 4 stores are closing and 2/3 of his collection is being auctioned, store number 1 is staying open. McMurtry can often be found in number 1, his favorite store, which still holds more than 150,000 books.

The Oscar winning screenwriter said, "For practical purposes the best solution is to have just one big building...I don't feel like its the end of an era at all. I bought books this week, I'll buy books next week."

McMurtry hopes many of his books going to auction will go to young dealers who want to start their own bookstores. Many of the bidders we spoke with were big budget store owners. But there were also collectors just looking for their next good read.

One collector said, "People aren't interested in books anymore. Everyone talks about you know their E-book and you know it's hard. I don't want to read an E-book. I want an actual book.
You hold it, you read it, you sniff it, you fall asleep on it.

The auction will continue Saturday morning with a walk through at 9:30 a.m. and the auction resuming at 10. Anyone interested can register at building 1 with a $50 deposit.

Jack Lamson, Newschannel 6
@JackLamson