November 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Ann Patchett's Bookshop "Thriving"

480px-Ann_Patchett_2012_Shankbone.JPGSome readers may recall that bestselling author Ann Patchett (State of Wonder, Bel Canto) opened up a bookshop last year in her hometown, Nashville, Tennessee.  At the time she worried she was "opening an ice shop in the age of Fridgidaire," but felt compelled to replace the hole in her community from the 2010 closing of a local bookshop chain.  Her store, Parnassus Books, is now approaching its one year anniversary and is "thriving" according to a recent profile of Patchett and her bookshop in The Courier-Journal.

Instead of attempting to compete with the "superstores" of Barnes and Noble, which average 26,000 square feet, Patchett opened a smaller, community-focused bookshop in a strip mall a few miles from downtown.  Parnassus books only occupies 3,150 feet but put down a healthy 2 million in sales last year.

Patchett has a business partner to manage the daily operation of the store but stops by and plays "literary matchmaker" every other day in between writing sessions.

Of course, it helps Parnassus that Patchett is a renowned author able to draw national press coverage, but she is really only a representative of a wider trend in independent bookselling. The head of the American Bookselling Association said that in the past three years more independent bookshops have opened than closed.

Let's hope that encouraging trend continues.

[Images of Patchett from Wikipedia]