Ann Patchett Opening a Bookstore in Nashville



Ann Patchett
  • Photo: Melissa Ann Pinney
  • Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett has told NPR's Diane Rehm and The Boston Phoenix's Eugenia Williams that she's planning to open a bookstore in Nashville with Random House sales rep Karen Hayes. Judging by her reference in the Phoenix story to "a cafeteria that had been empty for three years," we're guessing she's looking at the old Belle Meade Cafeteria as a possible site.

It's worth noting that Patchett tells Rehm that she's partnering with Hayes, though in the Phoenix story, she says, "There's a woman that I'm working with, and I am helping her open one."

From yesterday's Diane Rehm Show:

I'll tell you what, Diane, I am opening a bookstore. I live in Nashville. We lost our independent bookstore, Davis-Kidd and several months later, we lost our Borders. There is not a bookstore in Nashville.

Oh, my goodness.

We have used bookstores, but the closest Barnes and Noble is 20 miles outside of town. And, you know, I don't know if I'm opening an ice shop on the age of Frigidaire, but I can't live in a city that doesn't have a bookstore. And I've partnered with an amazing woman named Karen Hayes who really knows what she's doing. She's been a sales rep for Random House for 18 years. She knows how to run a store and we're getting it together. We're hoping to be up and running by Christmas.

Well, we're so thrilled here in Washington, D.C., that the independent bookstore, Politics & Prose, has been purchased by two individuals who like you, want to keep that independent bookstore going.

Absolutely. And I think that the problem is the bookstores got too big. The bookstores that closed in Nashville, they were both over 30,000...

Yeah, huge, huge.

...square feet. We're looking at 3,000 square feet. So, you know, it's kind of this model for what's gone on in our country in so many different ways. We just super-sized. We got bigger and bigger and bigger and it couldn't sustain it. We can't sustain a 30,000 foot bookstore, but we really can sustain a 3,000 square foot store.

An excerpt from The Boston Phoenix interview, after the jump.

I used to live in Cambridge, and I'm always happy to go back to Porter Square. I lived right across from Radcliffe Yard when I was at the Bunting Institute, which is now called the Radcliffe Institute. It was 17 years ago. I had written a proposal to write Taft, and I finished it three days before I arrived at the Bunting and I had nothing to do.

When I first finish a book, I am always at a complete loss of what I'm going to do next. My time at Radcliffe was spent swimming and running and going to classes. I had a good time, but I really wasted my time. I'm not sure I could've been more disciplined, because when I finish a book, I am so out of book. The cupboard is bare.

Let me tell you what I was doing this morning. Just before I talked to you, I was standing in a cafeteria that had been empty for three years, with giant flashlights and contractors because I think I'm going to open a book store. There's a woman that I'm working with, and I am helping her open one.

We had an independent [in Nashville]. . . . It was bought by Joseph-Beth Booksellers and it became part of their chain, then they moved it to the mall and it went bankrupt. A Borders closed a month later, and now we don't have a book store. I'm working with this woman, who is a Random House [sales] rep, who is determined to open a small independent book store in Nashville. I don't know if it's the craziest idea in the world, but I cannot live in a city without a book store. It is so weird to have a book coming out when there are no book stores here.

I think we've got to get back to a 3000-square-foot store and not 30,000. Amazon is always going to have everything — you can't compete with that. But there is, I believe, still a place for a store where people read books.

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