Those started to vanish when national book chains arrived, cutting prices and offering more selection. The more recent introduction of e-books accelerated that trend.
On Louetta Road in Spring, a tiny bookstore has been reinvented by a mother and daughter who love to read.
Copperfield's Books was about to close about a year ago. For years, Donna Maxwell had been a customer, fueling her appetite for books and reading that's been with her since she was a child.
"I'd been keeping my eye on it," she said. "Then I went to my daughter and said, what do you think about buying a bookstore?"
Daughter Tiffany Smith thought the timing was bad -- she had young children, a job of her own. "I told my husband about what Mom said in passing. A few days later he said, let's think about that."
The thinking resulted in the purchase of Copperfield's Books, which the family owns, and Maxwell manages.
What were dusty book stacks have been transformed in organized aisles of hardbacks and paperbacks, some gently used, the rest new. There are also gifts for bibliophiles, from book markers to t-shirts. But no e-readers.
It's brought in book clubs, looking for designated reading, schools that give Maxwell the required reading list for students in the area.
New customers like Laura Salazar delight in what they find at Copperfield's Books. "I don't do e-books," she said. "I like to hold them in my hand, and one day, I'll pass them on to my children and so on."
That's how Maxwell and her daughter feel as well. "People love the smell and the feel of books," they say, and there are thousands of volumes of everything from non-fiction, to mystery, historical novels and best-sellers on the shelves. A lot of books are 60 per cent off.
They're attracting new customers, of all ages. "Our goal is to pass the love of books and reading on to children," they said.
Copperfield's Books can be found at 8220 Louetta Rd in Spring.