By Geo Ong
Ooh, independent bookstores! I should buy one of those on Amazon!
—Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, 20 February 2012
Stephen Colbert, how we’ve missed you. While the other Urchins and I wish you and your family much love, we are glad you’re back on television, reclaiming that special seat in our satiric little hearts.
Last night’s guest on The Colbert Report was the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto, Run, and her latest, State of Wonder. Perhaps even more impressive is the most recent addition to her CV, co-owner of the independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville, Tennessee, which celebrated its grand opening not too long ago on 19 November 2011.
After grilling Patchett on the benefits of shopping independent over online, Colbert asked a question I’ve never heard an author answer. ‘You’re an author, and you’re trash-talking all these online people, aren’t you afraid they’re not gonna sell your book?’ And while Patchett answered modestly, claiming that she wasn’t a big-enough name for Amazon to take notice, her attitude seemed pretty clear to me. Yes, she’s an author, but she’s also a bookstore owner. I would assume that she has been fighting for independent bookstores for many years before the opening of Parnassus Books, but now that she is an owner, she has re-entered the fight in a big and important way. Speaking as an independent bookseller, I’m glad to have her on our side.
Watch the full interview on The Colbert Report‘s official website. It’s entertaining, funny, and it closes with Patchett giving Colbert an offer he perhaps won’t be able to refuse.