Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

"This is a Tale of Redemption"

Novelist and Nashville bookstore owner Ann Patchett wows Stephen Colbert with her story

February 21, 2012 If independent booksellers had anything to say about it, Ann Patchett would be canonized. Last month, when she told the story of how she came to open Parnassus Books in Nashville, the Patron Saint of Bookstores got a standing ovation from a packed audience at the Winter Institute of the American Booksellers Association.

Now Patchett has taken her message about the humanizing effect of independent bookstores to a far larger audience: the millions of viewers of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. “If you never ever talk to people, and you meet all of your needs on the Internet, you wake up one day, and you’re the Unabomber,” Patchett told Colbert. And this remark wasn’t even the only time she left him temporarily speechless. Click here to watch the video of Patchett on The Colbert Report, and here to read a transcript of part of the exchange.

Meanwhile, back at home, the “Colbert bump,” as the comedian calls his own effect on book sales after an author has appeared on the show, became evident even before Patchett got back to Nashville: “It’s been insane,” says Niki Castle, marketing and events manager for Parnassus. “We’ve gotten almost 400 new fans on Facebook, unbelievable amounts of Twitter love, and loads and loads of online orders. Ann’s signing books as quickly as we can stuff them into mailing envelopes! We truly feel like the luckiest little bookstore in the world.”