A small creepy doll with ghoulish black outlined eyes and blond hair wearing a raggedy old gown stands next to a chalkboard sign. The greeting on the sign reads: "GHOULISH BOOKS: YOU CAN'T KILL WHAT'S ALREADY DEAD."

The sign that greets fans of horror outside the Ghoulish Books storefront in Selma. Photo by Omar Gallaga.

What kind of retail business does a ghost enjoy haunting most?

A booooookstore!

Forgive the Dad joke, but it does relate: There’s a spooky new bookstore in Central Texas that deals primarily in horror fiction. Ghoulish Books bookstore opened April 29 in Selma, a suburb just north of San Antonio, and it serves as the brick-and-mortar extension of a publishing company that specializes in scary literature.

Ghoulish Books Bookstore

9330 Corporate Drive, Suite 702
Phone: 210-248-9593
Hours: Tue-Thu 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri-Sat 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Website: perpetual

“We’re book publishers and we had gotten to a point where we’d grown past our kitchen, so we were looking for a place to store stuff and ship stuff and do office work,” says Lori Michelle, a horror author who opened the shop with her husband, Max Booth III, who also writes horror novels.

“Doing the bookshop was something we’ve always talked about potentially doing if we had the opportunity, and, suddenly, we did,” Booth says.

The previous owner of the storefront called Cibolo Chicks Books decided to close and the horror authors took over. The shop, which is in an office park a short distance from Interstate 35, now sports a green neon Ghoulish Books sign, a creepy doll out front, and a little werewolf figure along with shelves and shelves of horror books, toys, and a “Spooky Kids Corner” for younger-set titles like the Goosebumps series.

Along with books from their publishing house [formerly called Perpetual Publishing], such as The Nightly Disease and The Screaming Child, the bookstore features popular titles from the likes of Stephen King and the newer brigade of popular horror scribes including Josh Malerman (Bird Box), Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indians), and Paul Tremblay (The Cabin at the End of the World).

Ghoulish Books owners Max Booth III and Lori Michelle at their spooky bookstore in Selma. Photo by Omar Gallaga.

The couple says that in addition to selling books, toys, and store-branded items like stickers and T-shirts, they’ve focused on creating events for fans of the literary genre to enjoy. Ghoulish Books has been the host of San Antonio’s Ghoulish Book Festival for the past two years and plan to continue that event for authors and readers. At the store, they’re scheduling events including movie nights, book club meetups, writing workshops, as well as trivia and Scrabble game nights.

“I think for a bookshop to be successful, you need to have ongoing events,” Booth III says.

The timing of the bookstore worked out, but it was almost a terrifying tale unto itself: The couple originally wanted to open a bookstore in 2020 and had begun working on a crowdfunding effort toward that goal. Luckily, the first plan didn’t work out—and probably wouldn’t have survived because of the challenges facing small businesses at the start of the coronavirus pandemic—so the store idea got pushed back.

“We were kind of thankful that we didn’t ever follow through [with the original plan],” Michelle says, “because that would have killed us.”

This month, Ghoulish Books hosts the following events at its Selma storefront: Spooky Kids Reading Hour on June 17 at noon, the Ghoulish Book Club on June 23 at 8 p.m., and Saturday Night Spookies (horror movie night) on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. More events can be found here.


Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price


Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.