The Best Record Store in Denton You Haven't Been To

Categories: The Industry

Courtesy of Books & More

When you walk into Books & More in north Denton, everything about the tiny-looking used-media shop comes as a surprise.

"When I first went there, they had a bunch of comic books, I was a kid, and the lady there let me work there," says Charles Wright, 22, a customer of Books & More for the last nine years. "She paid me in credit, and that was cool for being a kid. I love it now for the records. They have a lot of vintage records for good deals. I recently bought Princess Diana, Prince Charles and JFK speeches on vinyl. Pretty much anything that is well-known, you can find it there."

From the outside, the store has the appearance of a one-room dive shop with limited inventory. But once you take a few moments to navigate the area, you find that it unfolds and expands, and throughout its six different rooms of inventory there are more than 20,000 records and the same number of books.

It unravels like an ancient curios shop, and the record selection alone is enough to impress even the most jaded of vinyl enthusiasts.

People can purchase new and used movies, music and books from a number of different locations and districts throughout Denton. Really, though, when it comes to older records and used books, there are three prime shops. Recycled Books and Records is on the northeast corner of the Denton Square, and it is without question the tourism darling of the three. Its multiple floors house tens of thousands of books, with about 40 percent of one giant room devoted to used records. It's been a staple of Denton since 1983, and as a quick tour of the store turns into hours lost inside of its many, many rooms, it's easy to see why.

Mad World Records is another impressive stop for record enthusiasts, especially punk connoisseurs. Located on the south side of the Square, it has only one main room for merchandise, mainly consisting of CDs and records. Then there's Books & More, located about two miles north and west of the Square on University Drive.

Because of the relatively remote location and the slow economy for physical media, it is in danger of going out of business. Should that happen, Denton will lose one of its best record and book stores, and most people in the community will not have even known that it was there.

Debra Newton has owned and operated Books & More at its current location since 2002. It is sandwiched between a Dollar General and an Alcoholics Anonymous headquarters, all of which reside in a mini-mall northwest of central Denton, across the street from a Whataburger at the intersection of Malone Street and University Drive.
Dense traffic skirts the intersection of Malone and University during rush hour. Usually around 3 p.m. on school days, elementary school students, some accompanied by parents and some alone, walk past it to the homes in the neighborhood that borders it.
Other small Denton book and record stores exist and have existed for decades. There are chains down south, in the Golden Triangle Mall and further into the Loop 288 district. Denton is a big little town, but one of the things that makes it special is its healthy congress of locally owned specialty media shops.

In 2011, Chris Mosley from D Magazine put out a definitive article about the great independent record stores of Denton's past. Among a couple of others, Mosley names The X, Seasick Records and Johnny Law.

All of those stores had the benefit of being located on or very near the University of North Texas at a time when "UNT adjacent" was important to small, independently owned businesses. And even they didn't last for very long.

Farther away from the golden perimeter, Strawberry Fields only lasted for two years at its location on Bonnie Brae, and the longest-lasting shop named in the D Magazine article was the X, holding out for around four years before finally shuttering its doors.
Through her own experience, Newton has some ideas about why it's so difficult to keep independent stores such as hers open for the long haul.

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Books & More is a pretty good shop. Found near-mint copies of a couple of "The Firesign Theatre" LPs I hadn't heard since the early Seventies. Fairly extensive selection of used albums, nearly all of which seemed in very good shape to my eyes. Their prices for new records are commensurate with those I see online for the same product. Wish it wasn't such a drive to get there.

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