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Spotlight on a NEW Indie Bookstore: Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

December 2, 2011

If you follow books you’ve probably heard or read about Parnassus Books, the brand new Nashville based independent bookstore that was recently opened by author Ann Patchett and Nashvillian Karen Hayes.  Today we welcome one of our colleagues, Whitney Conyers, who attended the store’s launch party and is here to tell us all about it. Whitney is one of our educational wholesaler sales reps and a resident of Nashville, Tennessee.  She is thrilled to add Parnassus Books to her list of customers and thanks the powers that be at RAoR for keeping her in the loop on all things relevant to the indie marketplace! 

Parnassus Storefront (photo courtesy of

Parnassus Crew, left to right: Ann Patchett, Mary Grey James, Karen Hayes and Nikki Castle (photo courtesy of

Never in the history of an opening of a local business has there been more publicity than with the recent opening of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee. At least it felt that way to me – NY Times, The Tennessean, Publisher’s Weekly – it was like a publicist’s dream. This partnership between author Ann Patchett and Nashvillian Karen Hayes – the latter, I might add who was a former Random House sales rep – has Nashville and the nation a buzz. Who would open a bookstore in the face of the country’s second largest bookstore chain closing? Aren’t print books dead – why would someone open a bookstore during this great digital migration? And, why open a bookstore on the heels of the closing of the mighty Davis-Kidd, which was located a quarter mile from the Parnassus location? While these questions might keep some potential bookstore entrepreneurs longing for the days before the big book chains, they drove this pair to open Parnassus Books.

Karen and Ann acknowledge these seemingly insurmountable issues in several published interviews. However, the fact that metropolitan Nashville had no locally owned bookstore that focused on new books drove them to what some may call the insanity of opening an independent bookstore in 2011. The Parnassus staff is comprised of Nashville book industry “celebrities” – several former Davis-Kidd hand selling legends are on board. As is a children’s expert formerly of Ingram. The events coordinator earned her chops at the historic downtown Nashville library. Ann and Karen are not shy about placing part of the responsibility for the success of the bookstore in the hands of their shoppers. As with other locally owned businesses across the country, this store’s success or demise will depend on locals getting out from behind their computer and spending a few extra dollars on their books.

Parnassus Interior (photograph courtesy of

(Photograph courtesy of

When my family and I attended the grand opening a couple of weeks ago, I was blown away by the number of people there to welcome Parnassus Books. The Nashville Public Library’s legendary puppet truck was on hand to entertain probably close to 100 children and their parents. If you look closely at the picture you will see one Academy Award winner who resides in the neighborhood with her Grammy award winning singer husband. I could feel the excitement and the sense of community this little bookstore was bringing back to Nashville. Since I’m a children’s book lover at heart, I’m pleased to report that the children’s section was terrific. Blocked from view from the rest of the store it has a child sized entrance and, as great bookstores do, several books my children just HAD to have.

Parnassus Books has thousands of less square footage than your average Barnes and Noble. But what they do offer is the same thing many other independent bookstores have successfully offered for years. A carefully edited selection of good books, experts to help you find your next favorite read, an intimate atmosphere, terrific events and a fun and cozy children’s corner. As the weather turns colder here in Nashville, I can already predict how we will spend our Saturday mornings – sugaring up at The Donut Den down the way and then crashing at Parnassus Books.

For more information on Parnassus Books, please visit:

And here are a couple of great articles on the store, Karen & Ann:

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 2, 2011 8:52 am

    I am thrilled to see that crowd in there! I hope people realize that a local business does so much for their community and any money spent in one is money well spent.

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