There aren’t any Jets or Sharks connected with East Side Story, no rival gangs — just one happy community of writers.
Chuck Beard owns the just-opened East Side Story bookstore, located in the Five Points neighborhood of Nashville’s east side—hence the name. Already, over a hundred local authors are represented in the small, cozy nook on Woodland Street. There are shelves of fiction, non-fiction, kids’ books, poetry, and miscellany, accompanied by paintings and other works of literature-based art, all of it produced by Nashville-area writers and artists.
“We want to be a platform for published and aspiring local writers,” says Beard, who is a published author himself. His novel, “Adventures Inside a Bright-Eyed Sky,” a tall tale told by a boy, has sold several thousand copies, the proceeds from which Beard has donated to Gilda’s Club, in honor of his grandfather, who died of leukemia.
Beard, who grew up in nearby Bowling Green and went to Centre College in Kentucky, started keeping journals while traveling and studying abroad. He wrote his novel while living in Edinburgh, Scotland and attending the university there. He married and settled in Nashville, and began thinking about a bookstore for homegrown writers about a year ago. There wasn’t space in the cluster of shops he had his eye on, so he put the idea on the back shelf.
Then, a couple of months ago, serendipity stepped in. He won a contest sponsored by Proof, a branding company in Nashville, which entitled him to a full package of marketing services, and soon afterwards a shop became vacant in the Idea Hatchery cluster.
“I guess it needed to happen, and it did,” he says. “A lot of people are behind it, and it’s already begun to snowball.”
East Side Story opened August 11, in time for the Tomato Art Festival in east Nashville. It’s already been a topic of conversation in the Tennessean, The Scene, and on the Southern Living blog. The store’s grand opening will be September 15. Beard plans to have regular author readings, trivia nights and other events. He encourages area authors of all stripes to participate, and to bring him their books. He offers a 60-40 split on sales, highly visible shelf exposure, and inclusion on the East Side Story Facebook page.
East Side Story is a bookstore, but like the movie, there’s a love story involved.
“Books are how we all fell in love with reading,” Beard says. (And writing, he might have added.) “And some of the best stories are by unknown authors. I want to help find the voice in everyone.”
East Side Story is at 1108 Woodland Street, in the Idea Hatchery, next to the Arts & Invention Gallery. Hours are 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Fri. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. Call 615-915-1808; email Chuck Beard at email@example.com.
On another note: “Party on the Pike,” the annual Labor Day Weekend Celebration and fundraiser for FiftyForward Donelson Station, will feature food, music, arts, a silent auction, a book signing, and more for four days, 8/31 to 9/3. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. each day. Joanne Padgett will be signing her epic new vampire novel-series, “Vampires of Camelot” on Friday and Saturday. Call FiftyForward Donelson Station for more information, 883-8375.