Staff Review by Chris Saliba
Ann Patchett's entertaining 20-page booklet gives many insights into what it's like to open a bookshop.
When novelist Ann Patchett found that her hometown of
Nashville no longer had a truly independent bookshop, she went about opening
up one herself. She found a business partner, Karen Hayes, a sales rep at
Random House. The deal the two women struck was that Karen would do the day-to-day running of the store, while Ann would promote and finance it. Karen wanted
to call it Parnassus Books (in Greek Mythology, Mount Parnassus is the home of
literature, learning and music). Ann didn’t like the title. She wanted
something easier to remember, like Red Bird Books, but she finally gave way
as Karen was going to be spending most of her time in the store. They opened
their doors in November 2011 and haven’t looked back.
The Bookshop Strikes Back is the story of how that Nashville bookshop came into being. It was originally
published as a piece in the Atlantic Monthly and is here printed as a neat little 20 page booklet.
As someone who has taken the
plunge and opened a bookshop I found much that resonated in this essay. When Patchett told journalists she was opening a bookshop, they told her that
bookshops were now dead, but would then go on to reminisce about the favourite
bookstores of their youth. This is an interesting contradiction that I and my
co-owner often experienced.
I could also relate to Ann and Karen’s aims for their store, to create a
pleasant place where you could get advice, books gift wrapped or simply just
have a chat about favourite authors.
This is a smart little booklet written in a snappy and
engaging style. It provides many insights into what it's like to open up a bookshop. You could probably read it in twenty minutes. For its retail
price of 0.99 cents, it makes a nice addition to a gift for a book lover.
The Bookshop Strikes Back, by Ann Patchett. Published by Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408847503 RRP $0.99