Poetry Madness

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Ann Patchett: The $200 Impulse Buy

Most bookstores tuck authors away in dismal backrooms or cluttered offices before they read in an effort to:

A) protect the author from getting mobbed too early, or
B) protect the author from the fact that no one has shown up for the reading.

Among the stacks of galleys and paper cups full of day-old coffee, we sign the preorders and lose heart for what is to come.

But everything is different at Powell's. At Powell's they take you to the glassed-in Rare Book Room, a locked room filled with the most desirable treasures in the store — signed first editions and out-of-print wonders. It is a marvel of bibliomania, and it's also smart business. I can't speak for other authors, but I become a serious spendthrift on my book tours. I am lonely and exhausted. Items that I would never dream of buying at home become things I deserve when on tour, which is how I happened to buy a first edition of Dare Wright's dark and depressing masterpiece, The Lonely Doll. I saw it there on a low shelf after I had finished signing stock, before I had to go on and read — my favorite childhood book! And a bargain at $200. I snapped it up.

Now that I am safely home, I regard this beautiful book as proof of the temporary insanity I suffer on the road, as well as the general book-fever that can overtake a person at Powell's. Those folks know what they're doing.

÷ ÷ ÷

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize), and the nonfiction bestsellers What Now? and Truth and Beauty. Her latest book is This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is co-owner of Parnassus Books.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. State of Wonder (P.S.)
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  2. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
    Used Hardcover $12.50

Ann Patchett is the author of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

5 Responses to "Ann Patchett: The $200 Impulse Buy"

    Linda Cohen August 23rd, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I love The Lonely Doll but I think it might be generational because when I tried to give a copy to my 6 year old niece she was just creeped out.

    Christine August 23rd, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I grew up with that book and still love it to this day. I would have bought it with no hesitation with my grocery money for the money. =)

    Mary Larson August 23rd, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I'm convinced that Powell's Rare Book Room is actually the center of the universe. (And as such, there is an appropriately proportional gravitational pull on our wallets.) :)

    Dare Wright Media August 24th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    We at Dare Wright Media are thrilled to know that "The Lonely Doll" is Ann Patchett's favorite childhood book, especially as we just finished reading Patchett's masterpiece "State of Wonder." More information on Dare Wright and her books can be found at www.darewright.com and www.facebook.com/darewrightatribute.

    Edith August 28th, 2012 at 10:36 am

    It's great to know that one of my favorite authors is also a fan of Dare Wright's The Lonely Doll!

Post a comment:

Get Your Gravatar

  1. Please note:
  2. All comments require moderation by Powells.com staff.
  3. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear.
PowellsBooks.Blog uses Gravatar to allow you to personalize the icon that appears beside your name when you post. If you don't have one already, get your Gravatar today!
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.