When the two bookstores in Nashville, Tennessee, shut down, writer Ann Patchett and a friend cooked up the idea of starting an independent bookstore. People scoffed at the idea, saying that there is no future for bookstores—and perhaps not for books in a digital world. Patchett knew, however, that the bookstores that had closed had been profitable. They closed because of actions by their parent companies. “People still want books,” Patchett said. “I’ve got the numbers to prove it.” She said she hadn’t counted on one benefit of starting a bookstore: “I could talk strangers into reading books that I love” (Atlantic, December).