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Ann Patchett Opens Independent Bookstore in Nashville

Ann Patchett, you’re so cool.

She’s one of my favourite authors (if you haven’t read Bel Canto and The Magician’s Assistant, they are both excellent), and she grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, which recently has been facing a cultural crisis of sorts – with the bankruptcy of Borders and the closing of a local bookstore last December, the city was nearly devoid of bookstores.

So Patchett, who’s doing quite well for herself, approached Karen Hayes, a long-time publishing veteran with a proposal, and the two embarked on a business as partners and co-owners of their new baby: a bookstore named Parnassus.

Patchett, in her touring across the country, did as much research as she could, gleaning advice from as many successful bookstore owners as possible, to try to find the magic formula of keeping an independent bookshop alive in these uncertain publishing times. The advice she got included:

-Put the children’s section as far away from the front door as possible.
-Hang signs from the ceiling, and customers will buy whatever is advertised on them.
-Make your store comforting and inclusive, smart but not snobby.
-Be small and sleek.
-Have intimate author events.
-Choose your inventory carefully.

So, had Patchett always dreamed of owning her very own bookstore? Quite the contrary.

“I have no interest in retail; I have no interest in opening a bookstore,” Ms. Patchett said, serenely sipping tea during a recent interview at her spacious pink brick house here. “But I also have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.”

More from the New York Times.

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