No one had ever seen anything quite like the weekend auction in early August. More than 300-thousand books put up for sale, drawing bidders from coast to coast to Archer City, Texas, boyhood home of Pulitzer Prize and Oscar Winning author Larry McMurtry.
McMurtry called it the "Last Book Sale" a play on words from one of the many books-turned films that made him rich and famous. "The Last Picture Show" like several of McMurtry's tales was set in Archer City. "Lonesome Dove" another best-seller turned TV mini-series blockbuster was maybe the best of all his Western novels. But, you'll get an argument on that because there are so many great ones.
"I'm doing it because I'm getting old," said McMurtry from behind a reading table at Book Up #1. "It's time to downsize."
McMurtry has been collecting books for decades filling four Booked Up stores in Archer City.
"He has tried so hard to keep our city alive," said Theresa Henry, a longtime resident who often minds the Visitor Center.
McMurtry's bookstores drawing collectors from far and near.
"I'm from Veroqua, Wisconsin," said bookstore owner Eddie Nix. "and I come here to buy books.
"It's a great place to scout books," said Sumpter Logan who made the drive from the Fort Worth suburb of Southlake. Sumpter collects McMurtry's works. "Except for Lonesome Dove I have first editions on most of em. But Lonesome Dove first editions sell for thousands."
There are a few touristy things to do in Archer City. For example if you are a fan of "The Last Picture Show" the theatre facade they used in the film is still here. But, most people come to Archer City for Larry McMurtry and his books."
McMurtry splits his time between Archer City and Tucson. But when he's in town check Booked Up #1. That's where he often is. It's the one of his four stores he plans to keep open long term.
"If a visitor comes here and is lucky enough to find you," I asked him, "you'll probably be sitting here?"
"Yep," McMurtry responded. "They'll find me sitting here, if I'm not shelving books or pricing books or researching books or something
'This guy is a legend within the bookselling community and what he's created here is mythical," said Eddie Nix during a lunch break from the big auction.
"He's taken upon himself to purchase many stores over the past decades and brought them all to this town. Brought a lot of people to this town also."