The mood is somber at the BookPage offices this morning as the news sinks in that Nashville’s beloved bookstore, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, will close next month. We got word of the closing at the end of the work day on Thursday, and as co-workers and friends exchanged a flurry of emails, texts and phone calls, the reaction from everyone was the same — so sad. Sad for Davis-Kidd’s employees and customers, sad for the authors who appeared there, sad for the Nashville community.
The story is an old and familiar one as independent bookstores across the country close their doors, but still, the news hits hard when
it happens to your bookstore, in your town. To get an idea of what the loss of Davis-Kidd means to Nashville, take a look at the front page of today’s Tennessean, where the story is the lead item on the front page.
“Davis-Kidd was part of the community from the beginning,” says Roger Bishop, a BookPage contributing writer who retired from Davis-Kidd in 2006 after a long career as a Nashville bookseller. Founded 30 years ago by Karen Davis and Thelma Kidd, the store was purchased more than a decade ago by the Joseph-Beth Group, which declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday and announced plans to close four stores, including the one that had become a Nashville institution.
“One of the great things about a store like Davis-Kidd is that you feel a responsibility to the community, and so you have all these authors coming in for signings, you have authors who come to the store as customers, you’re involved in different community events,” Roger told me this morning, recalling the store’s early support for the Southern Festival of Books and its sponsorship of Rebecca Bain’s book program, “The Fine Print,” which was broadcast for many years on our local NPR affiliate.
In addition to author signings, Davis-Kidd hosted live performances by musical groups and served as a meeting place for many book-related groups, including the Nashville chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. I had been a Davis-Kidd fan since it opened, had met there with my own book club and enjoyed many author events in the store over the years, from a hilarious reading by David Sedaris to a packed (and sweltering) crowd years ago to an appearance this summer by Nashville’s Adam Ross when his novel Mr. Peanut was published.
For Nashville authors in particular, an appearance at Davis-Kidd meant they had hit the big time, had really made it in the publishing world. In the Tennessean article, Ann Patchett remembers sitting in the parking lot and crying before her first appearance at the store.
All that is gone now, as the store prepares to liquidate its inventory in the weeks ahead. We will especially miss our local bookstore as a gathering place for booklovers, a place to meet authors whose work we admire, an opportunity to get book recommendations from store staffers and other readers, and a wonderful place to browse. (When I heard the news about the store closing, I was reminded of the scene in You’ve Got Mail, when Meg Ryan bids a heartbreaking farewell to her own small bookshop in New York.)
Where does the closing of independent bookstores like Davis-Kidd leave us? Are you one of the lucky ones who still has a favorite local bookstore in your hometown?