Posts Tagged ‘independent bookstore’

“You may have heard the news that the independent bookstore is dead, that books are dead, that maybe even reading is dead—to which I say: Pull up a chair, friend. I have a story to tell.”

Photo credit Heidi Ross, from www.theatlantic.com

Photo credit Heidi Ross, from http://www.theatlantic.com

That is, Ann Patchett has a story to tell. Ann Patchett is of course the award-winning and bestselling author of such books as Bel Canto, Patron Saint of Liars, The Magician’s Assistant, and, most recently, State of Wonder.  Patchett was the winner of the 2012-2013 WNBA Award, an award that recognized both her writing and her work as the co-owner of the independent bookstore Parnassus Books.  When Nashville lost both of its bookstores, Patchett stepped in along with Karen Hayes and Mary Grey James to open a new independent bookstore in town.

The story of how Patchett came to open the store, and its subsequent successes, is a story that flies in the face of what many believe possible in the book business.  This is precisely why Patchett tells it—in an article in The Atlantic this December entitled “The Bookstore Strikes Back.”  The following is an excerpt from this must-read article.

When I look back on all this now, I’m dizzied by the blitheness that stood in place of any sort of business sense, like the grand gesture of walking over to the roulette table and betting it all on a single number. Anyone I mentioned this plan to was quick to remind me that books were dead, that in two years—I have no idea where “two years” came from, but that number was consistently thrown at me—books would no longer exist, much less bookstores, and that I might as well be selling eight-track tapes and typewriters. But somehow all the nay-saying never registered in my brain. I could see our plan working as clearly as I could see myself standing beside my sister in Mills. I was a writer, after all, and my books sold pretty well. I spoke to crowds of enthusiastic readers all over the country, and those readers gave me confidence. More than that, I was partnered with Karen Hayes, who wore the steely determination of a woman who could clear a field and plant it herself, and with Mary Grey, my dear friend, who had opened a bookstore before. Moreover, Nashville’s two giant, departed bookstores had been profitable every month. I saw the roulette ball bouncing up again and again until finally coming to rest on the number I had chosen.”

To read the full article, visit The Atlantic’s website here!


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Nashville, TN, August 1, 2012:  The Women’s National Book Association announces that author Ann Patchett has been chosen to receive the 2012-2013 WNBA Award. The award is presented by the WNBA to a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books or the allied arts and has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation.

Ann Patchett is an award-winning and bestselling author of several works of fiction, among them, Patron Saint of Liars, named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best work of fiction; Bel Canto, which won both the PEN/Faulkner and Orange Prize in 2002; The Magician’s Assistant; and her latest, State of Wonder. Among her nonfiction titles are Truth and Beauty and What Now?

In addition, Ms. Patchett has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Gourmet, and Vogue.

In 2011, Ann Patchett opened a bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville with publishing veteran Karen Hayes, bucking the trend of the rising tide of closures among independents, the growth of “big box” outlets, and internet buying. She has become a powerful  advocate for independent bookselling throughout the country, having been interviewed by NPR and The New York Times, and having appeared on The Colbert Report. She was also named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2012.

The WNBA Award has been presented continuously since 1940. Previous recipients have included Doris Kearns Goodwin, Carolyn Heilbrun, Barbara Bush, Eleanor Roosevelt, Perri Klass, and Kathi Kamen Goldmark.

For more information about the WNBA Award, visit the national website here.

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We’re big fans of McNally Jackson bookstore here at the WNBA. As we mentioned before, they have a bustling events calendar complete with workshops, author signings, and book clubs. Coming up next Wednesday is a monthly storytelling and performance show, “Real Characters.” Combining some of New York’s best story tellers and comedians,  this month’s “Real Characters” starts at 7:00pm on April 11. Past performers include writers, actors,  and stand-ups who have appeared on This American Life, HBO’s Funny or Die and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

For more information on McNally Jackson, including their self publishing tools, online store, or staff picks, check out their website.

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