In 1974, our family moved to Humble and to my husband’s chagrin, he found no used bookstore in town. There was no bookstore at all. Booklovers like David know where all the bookstores are located, especially used bookstores. He spent the first Saturday after moving to an area in the local bookstores just browsing through the books, magazines and whatever there was for sale. He may even have purchased a few items.
The absence of a bookstore in Humble led to David’s idea of opening one. He would not only supply his need for books, but also the need of others who loved books. He found a used bookstore in north Houston and the owner agreed to sell him enough books to provide the inventory for a store. David’s dream became a reality in December 1975 when we opened a used bookstore in the old Humble Wildcat Den building on Avenue D, a location just past the business district on Main Street of Humble. We named the bookstore Humble Book Den to honor the memory of the Wildcat Den.
The book sales grew slowly and customers expressed their gratitude at being able to not only purchase books, but to receive credit for the books they had read and save money on more books. The customers were given credit for the books they returned and charged a modest handling charge on the purchase of “new to the customer” books. Getting books at a used bookstore was a “win-win” situation for both parties.
However, the attitudes of some residents were quite interesting. On occasion, we would find bags of books left near the door of the business. One lady brought in a bag of books during business hours. I asked if she wanted credit for the books. She replied, “No, I can afford to buy new books,” and she left the store.
The used bookstore was an adventure for every member of our family. Our daughter was still in diapers when we opened the business. She learned her alphabet while putting romance novels on the shelves in alphabetical order. Our sons earned their first paychecks by cleaning the store each week and I enjoyed the friendship of loyal customers who shopped for books and shared their reading experiences with me. I learned that although Western and romance novels had stories that were fiction, the geography and history that formed the background of the story was true. The nine years of owning a used bookstore were a time of unique experiences for each of us.
As more people became aware of the used bookstore, the business grew. After a couple of years, a larger space was needed. The Humble Book Den was moved to a location in the 300 hundred block of Main Street which is where Uptown Park is now. The final location at 407 Main Street is where the bookstore remained through the first decade of the current century. As the residents of Humble and the larger Lake Houston area appreciated purchasing used books, the first bookstore in Humble became an accepted establishment while meeting the demand for newer published books.
The last owner of the used bookstore changed the name to Ye Olde Bookstore. The store was closed due to the owner’s death and the contents of the store were sold to a couple in Baytown who were planning to open a bookstore in their town. The store had supplied used books to the residents of the Humble area for over 30 years, but other stores began to meet the demands for books in the community and the bookstore on Main Street became part of the area’s history.