Dead Tree Books is an independent used bookstore, located at 5645 South Flores Street, on the corner of South Flores Street and Southcross Boulevard. The bookstore, owned by Kenny and Lisa Johnson, opened its doors on April 1, 2016. Dead Tree Books is the sole bookstore in San Antonio’s South Side.
On July 31st, 2019, the owners of Dead Tree Books made a hardship announcement on their Twitter page, stating “Time for a hard announcement. We are really struggling in this location. If you love local businesses, it isn't enough to just love them. They need support, or doors close or businesses move. We are very close to that point.”
Since then, the community has rallied to save the bookstore, including Folklores Coffee House, located at 5009 South Flores Street, posting on their Facebook page “Calling all book lovers, our neighbors need some help. Dead Tree Books is the only bookstore we have on the south side and we can’t afford to see them close. You can visit them at 5645 S. Flores.”
Recently, we had the honor of interviewing owner Kenny Johnson:
Live From The Southside- Tell me how long your store has been here in the South Side?
Kenny- We’ve been here just over 3 years. It was 3 years last April 1st.
Live From The Southside - What made you want to open a bookstore in the South Side?
Kenny- We’re South Siders. We’ve lived in South Side out whole time together. We love the South Side and we’re also both bibliophiles; we love books, we love reading them, we love immersing ourselves in the books, finding them and that sort of stuff. So, putting together the love of books with our retail background, we came up with “Let’s open our own bookstore.” We love the South Side and knew there wasn’t a bookstore in the South Side, so we saw an opportunity.
Live From The Southside - Do you host events here? Do you have author signings?
Kenny- On a fairly regular basis, we have authors come in and sign their books. I’d say about 90% of them are local authors from San Antonio and the surrounding area. Tomorrow (August 3rd), we have 3 local poets (Wendy Barker, Jo Reyes-Boitel and Natalia Trevino) coming in to do a reading on their books. We do it on a fairly regular basis, but the next couple of months are kind of choppy, so we’re not exactly sure how many signings we’re going to have.
Live From The Southside - What is your goal of having the bookstore in the South Side?
Kenny- Our goal is to make enough money in the store that we can provide for ourselves. We’re not looking to get rich or open a whole chain of bookstores or anything. Provide the South Side and the people of San Antonio with books and be able to hopefully make enough money that we can do well for ourselves.
Live From The Southside - What made you choose this location?
Kenny- Like I said earlier, we’re South Siders. We looked at several different places and the two biggest things that brought us to this location is we’re pretty much at the geographical center of the South Side and #2, if you look at the traffic here along Flores and along Southcross, it’s just a constant stream all the time. Parking was also a thing. We wanted a place were there was plenty of parking and this place does have a lot of parking.
Live From The Southside - You reached out to social media about your challenges about making your next month’s rent. How do you feel about the community’s response?
Kenny- We’re awestruck! People have just been coming in and just buying and buying and buying and going to the internet and buying and buying and buying. And the way that they have responded is, at times, just about literally brought tears to both of our eyes. People have been so generous in their love for the store and the fact that they want us to be here.
Live From The Southside - Do you have anything to say to the community in regard to everything going on with your store?
Kenny- We want to thank everybody! Those who want to come in and haven’t, those who have come in and spent money and those who have just spread the word. The word has gone viral and people all over the country are responding. And we’d like to thank everybody for everything that they’ve done.