November 15, 2010

davis kidd

Filed under:, , , , , — cwage @ 5:55 pm

I have to admit, I find the lamentations regarding the demise of Davis Kidd bookstore a little disingenuous. Someone on twitter said it well: "If you want to shop at Davis Kidd so bad.....why haven't you been shopping at Davis Kidd?" Granted, the shutdown came because its conglomerate owner filed for bankruptcy, so it was not necessarily a failure of the store itself, but still. I really, really doubt that 99% of the people decrying its shutdown have even been there in the last year. And why would they? It was a hollow shell of its former self, in a horrible, inaccessible anchor corner of the Green Hills Mall -- ground zero for Nashville's vapid, consumerist upper middle class.

For years, the store filled a hole in our public consciousness that we all felt we needed: a cool, locally-owned independent bookstore -- an oasis apart from the megacorporate Borders and Barnes & Nobles of the world. Except it wasn't that, and it hasn't really been for a long time. Yet it persisted, staying in business and commanding a sort of weird hushed reverence, even though no one actually shopped there. I don't doubt that the store made an effort to continue its support of local publications to some degree, but let's not pretend there was any yawning gap of differentiation between the recent incarnation of Davis-Kidd at the mall and the Borders a few miles away.

Towards the end, I doubt that Davis-Kidd served any meaningful role for most people in the area beyond a place they could pretend they stopped at on their way to spend $300 at Whole Foods. So, in a weird way, with the demise of Davis-Kidd, we have a continuation of the only role it's really served for people in the last few years: feigned patronage and pretentiousness. Don't cry for Davis-Kidd -- it died years ago. Go get a Kindle e-reader and move on.

  • http://twitter.com/helenrae Helen

    You're right, this is just delayed mourning for what was a truly great local bookstore. Even if the current incarnation of Davis-Kidd wasn't in a mall and a BINO (bookstore in name only) with an alarming amount of space devoted to Vera Bradley tote bags and regrettable gift items, I think it would take a time machine to bring back the Davis-Kidd Nashvillians (still) love.

    You suggest people go out and buy an e-reader, but they already did. Both customers who appreciated the value of a brick-and-mortar bookstore with knowledgeable employees, and folks who just wanted to a buy the latest bestseller kept Davis-Kidd bustling in its heyday. Amazon and e-readers killed the Davis-Kidd we remember as much as corporate missteps by Joseph-Beth.

    I've been in the Green Hills store less than 6 times this year. I attended a reading by local author Adam Ross, tried (unsuccessfully) to find an Edward Leer or Ogden Nash collection for a friend's soon-to-be-born child, I bought 2 novels and one cookbook. I won't miss the Green Hills mall Davis-Kidd, much. I will miss the readings they still host--although I am hopeful that they will find another venue--and I will forever miss the Davis-Kidd I remember.

  • http://www.hungryphotographer.org KJ

    If I'm not mistaken the only brick & mortar bookseller of new titles in Nashville is now Outloud! on Church Street.

    I enjoyed shopping at Davis-Kidd though when it moved to the mall I was a bit disconcerted with the new store layout. I'm a magazine whore and particularly love their magazine selection.

  • YouWannaSeeVapid?

    I don't get all of the negativity towards Davis-Kidd. Yes, let's celebrate the closing of a place to take our kids, browse magazines, attend a book signing...and buy books. Let's just all stare into our smartphones and pretend we are 'connected', it's going to be great. You think the mall is vapid now? Just wait. In 1 week it won't even have a bookstore.

  • http://chris.quietlife.net Chris

    You think the mall is vapid now? Just wait. In 1 week it won't even have a bookstore.

    I am pretty sure you just answered your own question. ("I don't get all of the negativity towards Davis-Kidd")

    Call me crazy, but the green hills mall is not the place I look to for cultural and literary communing. The decision to move the bookstore there was a disastrous one, but only one in a long, slow decline since the sale from the original owners.

    Your luddism does nothing to help your case.. if you're willing to look, instead of just sneering down your nose, you'd see a burgeoning generation of people connecting and sharing information in new ways -- and using technology to access books on an unprecedented rate and scale. Using it to, you know, actually read, rather than hobknobbing at the mall over starbucks lattes about the latest oprah book club installment.

  • YouWannaSeeVapid?

    @Chris
    No need to be a dick about it...errr..oh wait, you do seem to have that need, but whatever. Anyway, what you say is a bunch of BS. Yes, let's close down all of the bookstores and cafes so you can get off on facebook with your 'friends' in peace and quiet. Wanting social space, even in snooty malls, is not being a Luddite. What we need now are more places to be around other humans, not less. Davis-Kidd certainly wasn't perfect, but to actually celebrate it's closing in print is just plain mean spirited and soulless, man.

  • http://chris.quietlife.net Chris

    Technically I wasn't celebrating its closing, I was questioning the spirit of the lamentations.

    If you want to start a book club that meets at the green hills mall, I will totally go to it. I'll eagerly await your facebook invite.

  • http://rkwmusic.com Robert K. Wolf

    Davis-Kidd will forever have a special place in my heart. I played there as a singer/songwriter during their writers' nights. A young lady whom I had met 6 months prior but hadn't gotten to know was perusing the frame aisle near the upper level restaurant. We recognized each other, started chatting, and soon let love blossom between us. We've been married six and a half years now. They've been the best of my life. Thank you, Davis-Kidd.