I read a silly headline today. It said that books are “in” again.
I’m pretty sure that for a lot of people, they were never out. But maybe the timing is particularly good for the new, roaming branch of independent bookstore Parnassus Books.
Alexandra Alter reports at the NY Times, “Nashville’s newest bookstore is an old van. The bright blue bookmobile, which hit the road [in March], is a roving offshoot of Parnassus Books, a popular independent bookstore. It will roam around town, stopping at food truck rallies, farmers’ markets and outside restaurants.
“The arrival of a bookstore on wheels is a fitting evolution for Parnassus, which is co-owned by Karen Hayes and the novelist Ann Patchett. The store’s name comes from Christopher Morley’s 1917 novel ‘Parnassus on Wheels,’ about a middle-aged woman who travels around selling books out of a horse-drawn van.”
[We will pause here to note that Morley, 1890 -1957, is a Haverford College grad, as are two members of my family.]
“Since Parnassus opened in 2011, Ms. Hayes has wanted a traveling bookstore of her own. She looked at taco trucks and ice cream trucks and felt envious of their freedom to take business wherever people gathered, she said.
“ ‘A bookmobile made so much sense, because food trucks work so well in this town,’ Ms. Hayes said by telephone. ‘It’s a great way to get our name out there, too. It’s a rolling advertisement.’ …
“ ‘One of my hopes is that we’ll be able go into some of the outlying suburbs and cities that don’t necessarily have a bookstore,’ said Grace Wright, a Parnassus bookseller who will manage the bookmobile. ‘There’s nothing like a good bookstore.’ ” More here.
Speaking of bookstores, I’ve been trying to patronize my local indy routinely, even though Amazon delivers. When I lived in Minneapolis, Amazon got an independent women’s bookstore called Amazon to relinquish the name it had had for years, and I had a sense at the time that it was only the first step in the online behemoth’s march across the globe. Didn’t realize how much more than a bookseller it would become.