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The Book Gallery opens its doors

The Book Gallery has opened its doors in the former Linens ’N Things off Parkside Drive.

The Nashville-based chain, with locations in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, sells bargain books.

“That’s really the magic of the store: we buy huge volumes that are publisher overstocks,” owner Paul Mann said.

The worst price in the whole store, he said, is still half price of the normal retail price.

The Knoxville store is a step in a new direction for The Book Gallery, Mann said. Many of The Book Gallery’s locations are set up like other big box bookstores; complete with expensive fixtures and fancier surroundings.

“Here, the idea is we are bringing in these mass quantities of books and we’re breaking them right on the floor. It’s really a lot of fun,” Mann said.

The new store is set up like a Costco: no frills, just discount books.

“We don’t have a coffee bar; we don’t have leather chairs. We don’t have WiFi. What this buys is great books at great prices, and that’s it. No frills.

“This is just plain Jane: there’s no paint on the walls, no fancy carpet, no nothing. Our specialty is books,” Mann said.

According to Mann, The Book Gallery sells more than 150,000 more books than other big box bookstores.

Mann was sure to point out the discount books aren’t stacks and stacks of unknown authors or unrecognizable titles.

“This is the same stuff you’d buy elsewhere, but it’s half price or better,” Mann said, pointing out books by authors as varied as Avi, James Patterson, Judy Blume and John Grisham.

“This is the good stuff,” he added.

But Mann said he was surprised by one of the books the store sold out of in its first week — not a romantic novel or a fantastic story, not a Grisham or Patterson — but a Kierkegaard philosophy book.

Science and history books also are proving popular in the Knoxville market, he said.

Mann said he felt that’s because the store’s discount prices allow buyers to experiment with books they may not buy otherwise.

“If you’re buying a book for $27, you want to be pretty confident that’s for you. … You tend to take chances here,” Mann said.

The 35,000 square foot Turkey Creek store will carry about 200,000 books when fully stocked with multiple genres. That date is about three weeks away, Mann said.

One of the largest sections in the store will be the children’s department, which will carry around 100,000 books, ranging from Scholastic Fair overstocks, fiction, classics and educational books.

“Once we get all these shipments in, this is going to be massively filled,” Mann said.

Other major genre sections will include Christian fiction, classics, mystery, romance and audio books.

A “learning center” near the back of the store will house historical books, again mostly geared to children. Mann expects that section to be a boon for home-schoolers. The clearance section will house about 10,000 books: most of those will be price between 99 cents and $2.99.

The store is set up with books stacked on tables and other fixtures along the walls of the store. Tables are organized by genre; genre-specific authors are organized alphabetically.

“It’s really designed for browsing,” Mann said.

Mann stressed The Book Gallery is not affiliated with the temporary bookstore that was housed in the former Linens ’N Things space.

For more information, call the Turkey Creek store, 11020 Parkside Drive, at 865-675-1327.


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