Last December found Nashville book lovers mourning the loss of our city's last full service independent book store. It was a sign of turbulent times in the publishing world. Soon, three Borders here would also turn off the lights and permanently close their doors. More than a few us knew that three fingers on our own hand also pointed back at our own selves. The day I heard that Davis-Kidd Booksellers was closing, a ginormous package arrived on my doorstep ala Amazon. I had done my Christmas shopping online. Gulp. Yep. I helped kill Davis-Kidd.
Have we learned our lesson? Have I learned my lesson? We're damn lucky, we are. Because in this last year, we celebrated what we had left, Franklin's Landmark Booksellers, Hillsboro Village's Bookman/Bookwoman and a couple of other used and specialty book stores. Bookman/Bookwoman began carrying New York Times bestsellers in addition to used varieties. And native daughter, best-selling author Ann Pachett was gifted a vision. And so were a few other tenacious book lovers. This week, the fruits of their literary loving labors opened its' doors in Green Hills as Parnassus Books. And less than a week earlier Barnes and Nobles expanded from Cool Springs and combined forces with Vanderbilt's bookstore to open in the old WestEnd Borders.
Books are not Dead. Not in Nashville. But these Nashville purveyors will need us to help keep the heart of their stores beating. Same goes wherever you are reading this from--support your local bookstores, please. As an author, speaking for all authors, we need you to help us have local venues to sell our books, to read them to you, to meet you face-to-face. Much creative, sacrificial toil goes into writing books. Good art deserves monetary support from us all.
By the time you read this, I will have walked down the street and into Parnassus and finally purchased a copy of my Nashville friend Carson Morton's successtful Stealing Mona Lisa to give as a Christmas gift. And in this last year, I have ordered from Landmark Booksellers and I've not purchased any books from Amazon. (I don't hate Amazon. The giant has its' place. But really, what's happened in part is the Wal-mart-ization of the local book vendor. Think about it. The consequences of our choices here in Nashville were painful. They cost us our locally-owned bookstores!)
In my humble convicted state of remorse, a debt I owe to myself, to other authors and to these bold folks that dare to keep alive the art of reading "Real Books," is to buy local. I've been doing that with my books, much of my produce, my jewelry, my housewares and some of my clothing since coming back from the land of locavore champions in the Pacific Northwest, summer 2010. It is the right thing to do for the economy, for the environment, for our communities.
And here's another thought...Do we really need to purchase six books at a time for ourselves from the virtual store? Yes, via the monopoly, we can buy six for the price of sometimes just two. But, what if we purchased one or two at a time? Radical concept? How many of us (I'm raising my hand here) have stacks and stacks of unread books? What if we helped the local bookseller by buying what we can afford from their shelves versus "more" from The Big Guy that then gathers dust on our nightstands--? And, if for your wallet that means six at top price, got for it! Good for you!
We lost a lot last year in our dear city. Let's keep history from repeating itself. Join me, will you? See you between the bookshelves!