Ann Patchett’s retro Nashville bookstore


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What do you do when you write another bestselling novel? Open an independent bookstore -- if you’re Ann Patchett, that is.

Sure, the 400 or so Borders bookstores around the country are closing. Yes, you can now see ads for the Kindle e-reader on TV. And when it comes to technology and books, both readers and publishers are saying e-books, e-books, e-books. Yet Patchett, whose latest book, ‘State of Wonder,’ is in its fifth week at the top of The Times’ bestseller list, wasn’t worried about any of that when she decided to open a bookstore in Nashville. The city, which has a population of about 1.5 million, has used bookstores but no first-run bookstore selling new books. The Associated Press reports:


‘I see this as a gift to the city,’ Patchett says. ‘I see this as a charitable contribution ... not as an investment, not as a smart business move, but really as somebody who loves Nashville and somebody who doesn’t want to live in a city without a bookstore.’... During her recent book tour, Patchett scoped ideas she could incorporate into her own store. [Independent bookstore owner Daniel] Goldin was a beacon in the fog, helping her with the fine details of putting together a store from scratch. He talked about the importance of flooring bids and payroll taxes. But he also talked about the importance of making sure his store is a cornerstone for the community.

Patchett will join a growing community of authors who own bookstores. Louise Erdrich owns Birchbark Books, focused on Native American intellectual culture, in Minneapolis. Also in Minnesota, Garrison Keillor’s Common Goods Books has been selling books in St. Paul since 2006. Larry McMurtry owns Booked Up, an antiquarian bookstore in Archer, Texas. Jonathan Lethem is a co-owner of Red Gap Books, a used bookstore in Maine.

Patchett’s bookstore, to be named Parnassus Books, is set to open before Christmas.


Book review: Ann Patchett’s ‘State of Wonder’

Larry McMurtry and his Hollywood future

Garrison Keillor envisions radio (but not bookish) retirement

-- Carolyn Kellogg