Support These Indie Bookstores in Nashville

Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, self-help, or otherwise these local establishments have got you covered, literally.

Many people know that Nashville is known for tourism, the healthcare industry, financial services, and music production, but printing and publishing has been an important part of the economy for more than a century. That’s why there was a “Printers Alley” long before it became home to pubs and karaoke lounges. As a center of publishing, Nashville is still blessed with some great independent bookstores that hold their own against the big box stores and online retailers. Carve out some time to browse the shelves and get lost in the lit.

Parnassus Books

Green Hills

Parnassus co-owner Ann Patchett is an internationally-known novelist and essay writer, and when she opened this Green Hills bookstore in 2010, the shop immediately demonstrated some serious cred. Thanks to Patchett’s star power, almost every big-name author on a book tour schedules a reading/signing event at Parnassus or at Parnassus-sponsored gatherings in other venues large enough to handle the crowds. With an impressive inventory of new and old titles and an entertaining children’s section for the kiddies, Parnassus is at the top of just about every list of Nashville bookstores.

Defunct Books

East Nashville

Specializing in out-of-print, used and rare collectible books, Defunct Books is constantly buying and selling through their inventory. They are discerning in the titles they’ll purchase, so don’t feel bad if they don’t want your paperback high school copy of Robinson Crusoe with the ripped cover. That just means that what they do buy is even more interesting, in better condition and often just a little bit delightfully off-beat.

Rhino Books

West Nashville

Owner Fred Koller has been a prolific songwriter since his early days working with Shel Silverstein. Koller shares Silverstein’s intelligent sense of humor and talent with the turn of a phrase, so it only made sense that he opened his own bookstore in 2001. Although Rhino has relocated over the years, patrons can always depend on a thoughtfully-curated inventory of interesting books with a special emphasis on the creative arts including photography, music, and film.

Fairytales Bookstore

East Nashville

This family-owned microstore has become a neighborhood favorite for families seeking out children’s books, educational toys, crafts and art supplies. The helpful staff will be happy to help hapless parents find that newest graphic novel or silly story to ignite a child’s love of reading. Story times are also great ways to find a new favorite readalong.

Located on Main Street in the quaint historic downtown area of Franklin, Landmark focuses on historical books: new, used, and rare editions. They also offer a wide selection of antique maps, prints, postcards and first edition books, as well as a notable support of local authors. The shop is so charming that it actually was the basis of a bestselling novel that was turned into a Hallmark movie.

The Bookshop

East Nashville

The Bookshop is a reader’s bookstore, the kind of place where workers love to spend time with customers talking about their love of literature and digging through the shelves to find the perfect read. The store is tiny, so they don’t have to dig too deep, but the thoughtful selection of inventory is sure to contain just what you’re looking for, even if you didn’t know what you wanted when you walked in.

Although it’s named after the owner, Elder’s Bookstore is indeed the oldest bookseller in Nashville. The second generation of Elders now runs the store, and the younger Elder has decades of experience in the business, including as a republisher of previously out-of-print regional history books. Specializing in Southern history and literature, Elder’s offers a treasure trove of rare and antique books to browse through and purchase.

Best-known as Nashville’s coolest used music store, Grimey’s also sells lots of new and pre-loved books in addition to all that vinyl. As a bonus, you can enjoy in-store performances and listening parties as you search the shelves for your next bedtime read. They also buy and trade music and books so you can refresh your own home library.

Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink, and travel writer based out of Nashville, where he has lived his entire life -- except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks. He is a regular contributor to the Nashville Scene, Nashville Lifestyles, Local Palate, Edible,, and Conde Nast Traveler. He likes beer, bourbon, and bacon but isn’t fanatical about any of them.