A bookstore that’s thriving, a very fun story

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This bookstore, to say the least, is unusual. In the age of huge, it’s small. In the age of digital, the lion’s share of books it sells are paper. Plus it’s celebrating an anniversary.

As the store celebrates its first anniversary this month, Patchett says, “People might not use ice to refrigerate anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still want some ice in their scotch and in their tea. There is still a real place for ice. And when the power is out, we are mighty grateful for a bag of the stuff.”

One of the bookstore’s owners is Ann Pratchett, author of six novels including a PEN/Faulkner Award winner. So, along with being a best selling author, she’s a bookstore owner.

What Patchett and Hayes have created out of a former tanning salon in a shopping center four miles south of downtown may seem retro. It’s an airy 3,150-square-foot store with 22,000 books and one piano (donated by a local musician, it’s used for monthly concerts).

An average Barnes & Noble “superstore” has 26,000 square feet for 125,000 titles, a prominent display of its Nook e-readers, but no pianos. And both Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com offer millions of books online — often at discounted prices that Parnassus doesn’t offer.

Patchett and Hayes say size matters — the lack of it. They say their store is big enough to offer a variety of titles, but not so large that “we lose a sense of intimacy, a human scale,” Hayes says.

As part of the American Booksellers Association’s digital partnership with Kobo, the store offers e-books, but they account for less than 1% of sales. Nor does the store, unlike some independents, sell Kobo’s e-readers. Hayes says, “We’re focusing on what we know best: books.”

Isn’t that amazing? Bucking the trend is definitely working for this partnership. It sounds like her customers are absolutely awesome, too:

”I enjoyed reading it on my iPad,” he says, “but I wanted a physical copy. I like to have it and to hold it.” Paying more “is worth it,” he says, “if it means keeping this store alive.”

This is a fascinating read.

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