Feature

Author of the week: Ann Patchett

The novelist has teamed up with a friend to open a new book store in Nashville.

Novelist Ann Patchett is betting big on an endangered industry, said Julie Bosman in The New York Times. Despite the steady disappearance of book retailers large and small, the Bel Canto author last week opened an independent bookstore in her hometown of Nashville. Partnering with a friend, Patchett put up $300,000 to open Parnassus Books after noticing that Nashville had become nearly bereft of brick-and-mortar book outlets. “I have no interest in retail,” says Patchett, 47. “But I also have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.” She began researching the business in earnest while on tour promoting her latest book, State of Wonder. “I would walk into these stores and the first thing I would say is: ‘How many square feet do you have? How many employees? What are your hours?’”

Don’t count out the little guy just yet, said Emma Mustich in Salon.com. Several independent bookstores nationwide have been doing well, which has Patchett hopeful. “There is this feeling of a redemption narrative,” she says. “What’s so great is that it’s a second chance at the bookstore of our youth, my youth. The bookstore where the same people are in there every day, and they know you, and they remember you, and they’re happy to see you—and they give you a book that they really like.” So far, business has been brisk, Patchett says, and not just because people are popping in to stargaze at a famous author. “I’m the springboard—but I’m not the draw. People are coming in because they want books.”

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