Malvern Books | A space for literature lovers finds its niche in the digital age

A pirate hangs from a rope to greet customers from the front window of Malvern Books.

A pirate hangs from a rope to greet customers from the front window of Malvern Books.

Image description
Malvern Books
Image description
Malvern Books
Native Austinite Joe Bratcher moved back to Austin from New York in 2013. At that time, Borders had already closed all its stores around the country. E-readers and online sales, Bratcher recalled, were the wave of the future—yet Bratcher chose to open a bookstore.

Bratcher’s vision for his store, Malvern Books, was to provide a slice of the past for readers who appreciated poetry and fiction, those who missed the experience of perusing a bookshelf to discover a new author.

As it turned out, independent stores like Malvern Books never did become relics of a bygone age. Five years later, the store has become a destination for poets, writers and reading groups.

“There are people who want to search for books and look at them themselves, and we give them that opportunity,” Bratcher said.

The name of Malvern Books is based on the 14th-century poem “The Vision of Piers Plowman” by William Langland, which is set in the Malvern Hills of England.

True to its namesake, the store specializes in poetry and fiction, especially from small, independent publishers. Bratcher initially curated the collection from publishers he knew. He has a background in the business through his small press, Host Publications, which has been in operation since the 1980s. Host Publications still publishes books, although Bratcher has scaled down since 2013.

Bratcher says he now relies on staff, including store manager Becky Garcia, to build inventory. Signs around the store help customers find staff recommendations and highlight favorite titles.

Bratcher knew when he opened Malvern Books that events would be crucial as a way to attract customers and provide the community with a space to express their love of books with others.

“Poetry groups were getting shoved into the corners at Starbucks,” he said.

The store hosts multiple events each month, from poetry clubs to author readings to events in partnership with literature programs at nearby universities. The groups create a lively and vibrant atmosphere in the store—one that is not borne as a relic of a time gone as Bratcher may have anticipated but one that is very much a part of the present.


The Broadmoor Campus is proposed to have a new MetroRail station. (Rendering courtesy Brandywine Realty Trust)
City to work with Capital Metro on financing new Broadmoor and McKalla Place rail stations as development boom looms

Austin City Council expects the new Austin FC stadium and massive mixed-use development planned for McKalla Place and the Broadmoor Campus to result in heightened demand for public transit.

Ricardo Lowe, a research associate at the Institute of Urban Research Policy and Analysis at the University of Texas, asks a question at an Austin ISD community meeting Nov. 12 held at Eastside Memorial High School. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper
As community engagement meetings wrap up, AISD trustees set to vote on four school closures Nov. 18

The AISD Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on four elementary school closures at its Nov. 18 meeting.

Austin's Rainey Street District has become one of the most popular entertainment districts in the city.
Rainey Street fund rises from ashes to preserve Mexican-American heritage in booming district

The Mexican-American heritage inside the Rainey Street District has been waning for years as development continues to heighten.

The Atlas 14 rainfall study found Austin to be at a much higher flood risk than previously understood.
Acknowledging expanded risk, Austin moves to prohibit additional density in city’s flood-prone areas

A recent federal flood risk study found Austin's flood risk to be significantly higher than previously understood.

The 10,000-seat Moody Center at The University of Texas is scheduled to open in 2022. (Rendering courtesy Gensler)
Groundbreaking for Moody Center at The University of Texas set for Dec. 3

The UT Board of Regents gave final approval Nov. 14 to a $38.5 million project to realign Red River Street around the new basketball arena.

The city of Austin authorized the purchase of a Rodeway Inn at 2711 S. I-35 on Nov. 14. The city plans to convert the property into a homeless shelter. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council green lights $8 million Rodeway Inn plan for homeless shelter transition, vows to address crime in the area

South Austin neighbors raised concerns that criminal activity in the area will put homeless individuals who enter the shelter at risk.

Lady Bird Lake at Congress Avenue in Austin. Since late July, parts of the lake have been off limits due to high concentrations of toxic "blue-green" algae. (Courtesy Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)
Toxic algae blooms are becoming more common, scientists say

Months have passed, but the capital city still has signs up warning of ongoing dangerous conditions in Lady Bird Lake.

Community members examine updated zoning maps at land development code town hall in October.
Land development code rewrite heads to City Council for final approval, marking home stretch of nearly 7-year process

Austin's long-awaited land development code rewrite is heading to City Council for final approval.

Crews work on updating a section of I-35 in Central Texas (Courtesy TxDOT)
Central Texas transportation agencies investing millions in I-35 for new lanes, intersection improvements aimed at aiding mobility

About 20 miles of I-35 through Central Texas will see an infusion of $400 million in state and federal funding to add one to two additional lanes in an effort to improve mobility.

Permanent supportive housing facility opens in East Austin

Terrace at Oak Springs, a facility that will provide permanent supportive housing to 50 people who were …

Lucien, Stirling and Gray moves to North Central Austin

Financial advisory group Lucien, Stirling and Gray relocated Oct. 31 from its former location at 4005 …

Red's Porch closes last remaining location

Red’s Porch closed Oct. 10 due to failing to pay rent according to a notice posted by the landlord, …

Back to top