Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Out of the Bookstore Rubble

The New York Times highlights the launch of two Nashville bookstores following the loss of Borders

September 28, 2011 The liquidation of Borders has many publishing-industry analysts—not to mention readers (and at least one bestselling Nashville novelist)—wondering if the bookstore cycle has come full circle: now that Amazon has killed the big-box stores that earlier killed the independents, is it time for the tiny indy bookshop on the corner to make a comeback? According to an article in last week’s Publisher’s Weekly, The Southern Independent Booksellers Association thinks so: “If the idea at last year’s Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show was to get booksellers established in the community of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other online social networking sites (with a cheeky ‘Get in Bed with a Bookseller’ theme), this year the focus was on the classic community-building strengths of independent bookstores IRL (that’s cyberspeak for In Real Life), highlighting what indies have been doing in their local communities to help break the stranglehold of big-box chains and online megaretailers.”

Now, on the heels of a Washington Post report that made essentially the same point back in August, The New York Times also considers the effect of the Borders breakdown on local independents: “This fall, Nashville is also gaining a new independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, run by the author Ann Patchett and her business partner, Karen Hayes. Some experienced bookselling hands say the demise of Borders could create opportunities for similar ventures in other communities, though not necessarily in the spaces Borders has vacated.”

Vanderbilt University, of course, has already announced that it is joining forces with Barnes & Noble to fill the literal space vacated by the Borders store on West End Avenue, but Parnassus Books, along with other area small-scale bookshops, will likely replace Borders in a metaphorical way that can’t be measured square foot for square foot.

And that’s exactly as it should be, Donna Paz Kaufman—formerly the general manager of Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville who founded Paz & Associates, a consultancy group that trains people to tun successful bookstores—told the Times: “There were so many store locations that didn’t work for Borders. You really have to look for the central retail hub—where do people go to spend the afternoon and browse? And do your retail neighbors attract the same shopper you’re looking for?” Read the full article here.

For more updates on Tennessee authors, please visit Chapter 16’s News & Notes page, here.