Davis-Kidd Booksellers – Nashville, TN

Address: Green Hills Mall, Suite 281, 2121 Green Hills Village Dr., Nashville, TN 37215
Phone: 615-385-2645
Owner: Neil Van Umm
Twitter: @Daviskiddbooks

What can I say? Davis-Kidd in Nashville is my hometown bookstore. I may have just moved to Chattanooga, but that doesn’t make a lick of difference.

In terms of the store’s history, I’m sure you’ve guessed that a “Davis” and a “Kidd” were actively involved. You guessed right. Back in 1980, Karen Davis and Thelma Kidd crossed paths and thought it would be fun to run a business together. They were ardent readers and wanted to create a bookstore that was comfortable, inclusive, and inviting. And, after twenty-five years, four relocations, seven expansions, millions of books, and countless author events Davis-Kidd Booksellers is still going strong, in a 36,000 square foot store at The Mall at Green Hills.

Their customers – me among them – agree that the store’s local interest section is by far the best in the area. It features various books on the state as well as books from local authors. In addition, Davis-Kidd has a wide array of backlist titles and of course new bestsellers, alongside more serious literary works. Southern favorites among their clientele include “Serena,” “Geronimo Rex,” “Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’ Easter,” (by my Nashville buddy Lisa Patton) and “South of Broad.”

One thing I have always admired about Davis-Kidd is that their booksellers really speak to Southern culture. They have several who are experts on Southern literature Southern art, Southern cooking etc.

In additon, the love their staff members have for each other and for books in general that really shines through to our customers. Because of them Davis-Kidd is really a happy place to be and to shop.

Posted October 14, 2010 at 9:47 am · 4 comments · Leave a Comment


Garden District Book Shop

Address: 2727 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: 504-895-2266
Owner: Britton Trice

Britton Trice says “There’s nothing like owning a business you love.” He got to know the business he owns and loves from the ground up: Garden District Books opened more than 33 years ago, and Trice worked there as manager before buying into the store and then ultimately purchasing it outright. He says that Garden District is the perfect combination of a central location in New Orleans’ most beautiful residential neighborhood, and a prime tourist attraction: The book store is housed in one of the District’s loveliest examples of antebellum architecture.

Garden District Books capitalizes on this combination by offering a wide selection of books on New Orleans and Louisiana – both in-print and out-of-print, as well as offering frequent literary events for local and regional authors. Trice also makes sure to book national authors, since he says “our large selection of signed books” is a customer favorite.

Other customer favorites by Southern authors include “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole, “The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy, “The House on First Street” by Julia Reed, and “Gumbo Tales” by Sara Roshen.

Over the many years he’s been involved with Garden District Books, Trice has developed many cherished memories. “There are so many: Having Walker Percy, William Styron, and Willie Morris in the store all at once. Anne Rice’s mega-event, the one where she arrived in a closed casket. Not to mention Pat Conroy’s kindness after Hurricane Katrina. The memories go on and on…”

Fortunately, for its loyal customers, so does the history of Garden Street Books.

Posted October 12, 2010 at 7:43 am · comment · Leave a Comment


Barnhill’s Books * Wine * Art * Gifts

Address: 811 Burke St. Winston-Salem, NC 27106
Phone: 336-602-1383

Barnhill’s is unique – which is perhaps why its web site name is “Only at Barnhill’s.” It’s also perhaps the “youngest” bookstore in the South, having opened on March 31, 2010. In a year that has seen lots of change for publishing as well as retail, the inspiration behind this new place tells its own story: A group of book lovers, wine lovers, authors, and publishers came together with the idea of creating a unique destination in the heart of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that would specialize in local art, wine, books – but especially people.

Located in a 100 year-old former private home, the store is designed to promote a “come in and get comfortable” feeling, inviting customers to settle in on a sofa with a good book, hang out, and even taste some wine if they so choose.

So far customers are selecting books of all types and genres. Although the store has chosen to specialize in small publishers and independent authors, it also carries current best sellers. Events are largely focused on indie authors, but there are big names, too, like “Outlander” series author Diana Gabaldon. All types of books are supported by weekly author signings, and there are plenty of selections from a decidedly Southern perspective, too. The large selection of North Carolina wine is complemented by work from local artists and artisans: You can buy a case of Flint Hill Vineyards wine, a John Reidy portrait, and some regional pickles from Miss Jenny’s, all in one trip.

The owners say “Our acceptance into the community has been overwhelming. We are grateful to be a small piece in the a large tapestry of Southern culture.”

Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:14 am · comment · Leave a Comment


Landmark Booksellers

Address: 114 East Main Street, Franklin, Tennessee 37064
Phone: 615-791-6400
Owner’s: Joel & Carol Tomlin

I recently did a reading at this store and I can’t say enough good things about Joel and Carol, Landmark Bookseller’s wonderfully hospitable owners. The store itself is just as charming. Housed in a 200-year old antebellum Greek Revival building in the heart of Franklin, it comes complete with a quartet of stately columns to greet you out front. According to Joel, they were each formed from four separate giant poplar trees.

The place just oozes history. Andrew Jackson supposedly paid his troops here on the way back from the Battle of New Orleans, with the notorious John and Peggy Eaton living right across the street. The building was used as a hospital after the Battle of Franklin. It was a juke-joint in the early 1900s.

Fast-forwarding to today, the store currently offers more than 50,000 second-hand, out-of-print, and rare books as well as new books on all subjects. Their specialty, however, would best be described as “all things Southern,” both fiction and non-fiction. Due to the rich history of the area, they sell a good deal of regional history and Civil War. In regard to literature and fiction, Landmark boasts a collection of 2000 signed/first editions including most of your Southern authors.

Popular sellers with the bookstore’s avid fans include an array of Southern delights, including “Twilight” by William Gay, “Widow of the South” by Robert Hicks, “Summons to Memphis” by Peter Taylor, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, “The Civil War” by Shelby Foote, “Nashville, The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble” by James Lee McDonough, “Nathan Bedford Forrest” by Jack Hurst and “Devil’s Dream” by Madison Smartt Bell, just to mention a few.

And, I’m proud to say that my first novel “Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen” is also among the store’s top sellers!

Posted October 5, 2010 at 7:56 am · comment · Leave a Comment


Bookin’ It

Address: 200 North Main Street, Belmont, NC  28012
Phone: 704.461.8258
Owner: David Bratcher
Twitter: @mobilebookstore

For a woman who loves to hit the road and talk books, I have found the perfect indie, Bookin’ It!, a mobile bookstore.  That’s right, a bookstore on wheels.  How perfect is that?  Bookin’ It! is a 24-foot, air-conditioned, Nascar trailer turned bookstore, outfitted with wooden bookshelves, cozy rugs and fireplace.  Yes, fireplace!  OK, the fireplace is electric, but the ambiance is perfectly toasty!

But it gets even better than that. Bookin’ It! is celebrating its birthday today.  Whoohoo!  Blow out some candles and make a wish because three years ago today the Bookin’ It! trailer was pulled into a Main Street parking lot in Belmont, North Carolina, (its semi-permanent home) and opened its door. And the Bookin’ It! staff hasn’t stopped rolling since – traveling to birthday parties, school festivals, corporate events,  and underserved communities in the state of North Carolina.

I visited Bookin’ It! this week and found president David Bratcher eager to show me his mobile store. David is mentally disabled, but at Bookin’ It, he has found his passion and his place, putting books in the hands of readers.  He particularly loves to read to children, dress up in character costumes, and make balloon animals.  And his devoted family is always there eager to lend a helping hand. Mom, Simone, runs the behind-the-scenes operation.  Dad pulls the trailer; and big sis, Yvonne, helps with sales. David’s good friend, Renee Hill, is always there to lend a hand and always with a sparkling smile on her face.

David held several other jobs after graduating from high school, but he often felt isolated and marginalized.  “He didn’t want to be picking up trash in a parking lot.  He wanted more for himself, and we wanted more for our son,” says Simone.  “David is a giver and what better thing for him to be doing than to be sharing the gift of books.”

In this tough economy, Simone believes Bookin’ It! has what it takes to make it.  In fact, she believes the advantage of a mobile bookstore is, well, priceless.  Bookin’ It! can go to the customer.  “In fact, we joke,” laughs Simone, “we not only go looking our customers, we run them down!.”

So if you want to visit a store unlike no other, then check out Bookin’ It, and tell David that Susan said “HI!”

Posted September 30, 2010 at 10:30 am · 6 comments · Leave a Comment


Diana’s Bookstore

Address: 127 West Main Street, Elkin, NC 28621
Phone: 336-835-3142
Owner: Cicely McCulloch

Nestled in the bustling downtown historic district of Elkin, Diana’s Bookstore offers more than books – with the aroma of gourmet coffee inspiring you to stay a while to browse, as you sip on a little comforting caffiene. Locals have said that this Main Street store is idyllic, reminding them of Meg Ryan’s sweet little bookstore in the hit movie “You’ve Got Mail.”

Owner Cicely McCulloch may not be Meg Ryan, but her love of Southern fiction combined with her Southern charm, keep locals coming back time and time again. Whether on the hunt for works by Southern authors like Mary Kay Andrews, John Hart, Patti Henry and Ann Ross, Life Is Good merchandise, the perfect greeting card or a delicious cappucino, Diana’s Bookstore has it all.

Add some of the staff’s genuine smiles, pride in small town customer service and passion for books, and you’ve got a Dixie gem on your hands.

Posted September 28, 2010 at 11:18 am · comment · Leave a Comment


Lemuria Books

Address: 202 Banner Hall, 4465 I-55 North, Jackson, Mississippi 39206
Phone: 601-366-7619 / 1-800-366-7619 (toll-free)
Owner: John Evans
Twitter: @LemuriaBooks

When it comes to Lemuria’s beginnings, it all started with a situation too many of us have know all too well – unemployment. In 1975, John Evans couldn’t find a job anywhere in Jackson and ultimately decided he better figure out a way to employ himself. A passionate reader who had regularly been frustrated that books he wanted weren’t available in Jackson or elsewhere in the whole of Mississippi, he figured that opening a topnotch bookstore would be a good bet.

He opened Lemuria in a cramped converted apartment in an area known as the Quarter on Lakeland Drive. Two years later Lemuria moved to Highland Village a shopping area just north of downtown Jackson, allowing for expansion with new sections devoted to children’s books, fiction and Southern writers. Eventually, he even acquired a smaller building next door which has become the location for many of the bookstore’s fantastic author events.

With a real variety of customers coming through their doors, popular book selections are all over the map, from history and politics to cooking and travel to mysteries and poetry, not to mention Civil Rights and Southern history, as well as Southern classic and contemporary fiction. They even have a special Southern fiction section that offers writers known nationwide like John Grisham to the lesser known Mary Ward Brown of Alabama.

Lemuria’s attention to local books though, really sets them apart. This October they will be showcasing three big Mississippi books coming out: “Mississippians,” a beautiful book about famous Mississippians as well as some not so famous Mississippians who have made a difference; a stunning photography book on the “Blues in Mississippi” done by Ken Murphy; and a book by the journalist Curtis Wilkie about the recent Dicky Scruggs case, a judge bribery case that has been in the national spotlight.

This amazing bookstore will begin its 35th year this October and I have to applaud them on cultivating relationships over the years with Southern writers such as, Eudora Welty, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Barry Gifford. All of these writers, in their own way, try to capture something crucial to understanding the South.

Posted September 23, 2010 at 8:24 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment


City Lights Bookstore

Address: 3 East Jackson Street; Sylva, NC 28779
Phone: 828-586-9499 / 888-853-6298 (toll-free)
Owner: Chris Wilcox
Twitter: @citylightsnc

I am particularly fond of this store, nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Sylva – it’s an unexpected treat in a small burg off the beaten path. City Lights has a great staff headed by a great owner, Chris Wilcox, who worked here for 12 years until his mentor Joyce Moore offered to sell it to him. “What a fantastic opportunity!” Chris says, reminding me that the store has been in the same location in historic downtown Sylva for 25 years.

Chris says he and his staff are grateful that customers don’t all like the same sort of books, although “we do sell more novels than any other type of book in general.”

Some of the novels City Lights sells again and again include “One Foot in Eden” by Ron Rash “Burning Bright” by Tracey Chevalier, “Serena” by Ron Rash, “Look Homeward, Angel” by Thomas Wolfe, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, “Mason Jars in the Flood” by Gary Carden, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, “The Collected Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor,” “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd, “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen, “Devil Amongst the Lawyers” by Sharyn McCrumb, and “In a Dark Season” by Vicki Lane.

“Southerners love a good story, and that’s our business,” says Chris. “We sell stories, and our customers often share stories with us.” Of course, some of those stories revolve around mountainous Appalachia, so City Lights features an “Appalachian Book of the Week,” paying homage not just to Southern roots but to old regional folkways as well. Books with titles like “Moon Women” (by my dear friend Pam Duncan) and “Tales of the Porch” keep a familiar feel for local customers yet offer something a little different for people like me – and hopefully you! – who wander in for a spot of bookish community while exploring this beautiful area.

Posted September 21, 2010 at 7:24 am · comment · Leave a Comment


Quail Ridge Books & Music

Address: 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27607

Phone: 919-828-1588 (customers); 919-828-7912 (business)

Owner: Nancy Olson


Twitter: @quailridgebooks

When Nancy Olson moved to Raleigh back in 1984, she was disappointed. She couldn’t find a truly wonderful bookstore in town. A passionate reader, Nancy found this to be completely unacceptable – and soon opened Quail Ridge Books & Music at a location near numerous colleges and universities, right off the main interstate and roads leading to Raleigh.

Walk in today and it is evident that is bookstore is Dixie through and through. Quail Ridge Books & Music has spotlighted Southern writers since they opened. That just happened to be same year that Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill opened, so they have an excellent relationship with their writers, alongside most other Southern authors. Customers clamor for fiction or nonfiction, written by a Southerner, or about the South. Favorites include Lee Smith, Reynolds Price, Angela Davis-Gardner, Kaye Gibbons, Charles Frazier and many more.

And, as the title of the store suggests, Quail Ridge isn’t just about books.  It is about music too, with a department that specializes in classical, jazz, and traditional music and presents a diverse program of free concerts. Last year, the store’s 25th anniversary party featured a harp player and bluegrass trio in the midst of shelves of glorious literature and non-fiction.

An amazing book and music store in Raleigh? That’s music to my ears!

P.S. Cannot write about this store without mentioning their show stopping bathroom decor. The walls are lined with framed photos of successful writers. (Seems like this is the moment to talk about various reading habits and multi-tasking, but I’ll refrain.)

Posted September 16, 2010 at 9:07 am · 2 comments · Leave a Comment


Capitol Book & News

Address: 1140 E. Fairview Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36106

Phone: 334-265-1473

Owners: Cheryl & Thomas Upchurch


Twitter: @capitolbook

Cheryl Upchurch happened to be looking for a job when this local institution – Capitol Book & News — needed help.  When the founder was ready to retire a few years later, she and her husband Thomas were able to buy this wonderful store.

Set in a quaint, established neighborhood of Montgomery that combines homes, shops and restaurants, the location was perfect for this bookstore.  The warm old house that serves as the home for Capitol Book & News just beckons you to step inside!

Southern history and Southern literature like “The Well and the Mine,” “Hell at the Breech,” “One Foot in Eden” and “Crazy in Alabama”fly off the shelves. The also offer a great selection of books for children.

And, interestingly enough, being located in Montgomery Alabama, they sell books about the Civil Rights movement and books about the Civil War equally well!

Posted September 14, 2010 at 6:30 am · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

Susan Gregg Gilmore