Parnassus Books, the Nashville, Tennessee, bookstore co-owned by Ann Patchett, had to close its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped the novelist from getting books into the hands of customers who are using their time in quarantine to catch up on their reading.
In the days following the temporary closing of the store, Patchett writes, Parnassus offered curbside delivery (or as the Guardian insists on spelling it, “kerbside delivery”). That didn’t last long.
“[T]he problem was, so many people were calling that the staff wound up clustered around the cash registers, ringing up orders,” Patchett writes. “No good.”
Now the store relies on the endangered U.S. Postal Service to get books to customers. “We’re part of a supply chain that relies on publishers to publish the books and distributors to ship the books and the postal service to pick up the boxes and take them away,” she writes. “We rely on our noble booksellers filling the boxes to stay healthy and stay away from each other.”
“When a friend of mine, stuck in his tiny New York apartment, told me he dreamed of being able to read the new Louise Erdrich book, I made that dream come true,” she writes. “I can solve nothing, I can save no one, but dammit, I can mail Patrick a copy of The Night Watchman.”
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.