Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

The End of Serendipity

Nashville novelist Adam Ross mourns the death of Davis-Kidd Booksellers

November 18, 2010 A “dazzle of possibilities is perhaps what we stand to lose most when one more bookstore closes,” Nashville novelist Adam Ross writes in a valediction for Davis-Kidd Booksellers in today’s issue of the Nashville Scene. “It’s a step closer to the end of serendipity. How many of us discovered one of our favorite books entirely through some quirk of timing, some trick of the moment—the wink of a jacket; the come-on of a font or blurb? Sure, computer programs can offer suggestions based on your recent purchases, but the effect is typically more creepy than helpful, like the concern of a neighbor who’s been reading your mail. What’s missing is the chance of chance itself.”

Beyond that sense of serendipity and that community of book lovers, what Chapter 16 will miss about Carpe Librum in Knoxville, Bookstar in Memphis, and Davis-Kidd in Nashville—all of which will be closing in the next few weeks—is the chance they gave us to meet our favorite writers in person. Virtually every night of the week, thanks to author events at these stores, it was possible to settle into a chair and return to that blissful pleasure of childhood: listening to someone reading aloud. There’s nothing quite like hearing a beloved author reading from a new book, or of having the chance to talk to a writer in real life. And because a bookstore promotes its upcoming author events with posters and store displays and email blasts, and because it inspires local media—like Chapter 16—to keep books in the news, it provides a way for readers, even readers who have never been to a store event, to learn about books that the monoculture of The New York Times Book Review has overlooked. A vibrant reading series, in a very real sense, helps to keep a local literary community alive. At Chapter 16, we’re in mourning.

For a list of independent bookstores in Tennessee, click here.

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