Last week, ever since Borders gave up its limping attempt to recover from bankruptcy and fell headlong into liquidation, a gloom has settled over the American literary community. The days of eagerly printing out coupons and rushing to the local superstore for a deal on Philip Roth or Cormac McCarthy (or both) are gone, forever. After the loss of Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis and Nashville, Rock Point Books in Chattanooga, and Carpe Librum in Knoxville, Tennessee readers can be forgiven for looking around at the few bookstores that remain and thinking, “These, too, shall pass.” But this sense of doom lasts only until they reach the actual threshold of an establishment like Knoxville’s Union Ave. Books.
In a letter posted to the store’s Facebook page, co-owner Melinda Meador is anything but pessimistic about the fate of her new bookstore, and of bookstores in general: “I do think there will always be a market for people who care about books—in particular, people who care about good books.” And good books are what patrons find lining the shelves of Union Ave. Books, with opportunities to order even more, as Meador asserts: “After all, we want to stock what you want to read.”
As for the possibility of success: for Meador, it rests entirely on Knoxville’s reading population. “As long as you are buying books in our store,” Meador finishes, “we won’t meet [Borders’] fate.”