“Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.” ― Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting

Like many of you, we appreciate a story when read from paper pages — even more so when those pages have smudges from past readers, folds on saved pages and even an occasional underlined sentence or verse that spoke to the previous owner. There is something commandingly intimate about getting lost in a secondhand book, and a few dedicated souls in town allow us to indulge in the pleasure of picking up a book with a history of its own. If you are on the hunt for a good, gently loved book, or just have the desire to spend all day sifting through great literature, head to one of these locally owned used bookstores for one-of-a-kind collections.

Nashville used bookstores
Spend an afternoon in one of Nashville’s used bookstores!

Landmark Booksellers

114 E. Main St., Franklin • (615) 791-6400
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Housed in The Old Factory Store (built in 1826), Landmark Booksellers elicits feelings of visiting an old friend’s home. Cocktail hour begins at 4 p.m., meaning you can find Joel Tomlin, who owns Landmark with his wife, Carol, sipping a bourbon on the comfortable leather couches enveloped by 60,000 new and hard-to-find rare books, including more than 1,500 signed first editions. The atmosphere is welcoming and the selection is diverse.

The original inventory that helped open the bookstore — a 50,000-plus collection — came from Dad’s Old Bookstore, which was located in Green Hills and closed 11 years ago. The Tomlilns, in an attempt to find something to do together, opened Landmark Booksellers with that collection in July 2005, and the selection of books has only grown over the years. Joel’s passion lies in Tennessee and Southern literature, culture and history, but that is not all you will find in this two-story shop. Books on all subjects are conveniently arranged, making looking and exploring even more fun. While you are hunting for the perfect book, allow any kiddos you have in tow to be entertained in the children’s reading room. (Insider tip: if you cannot find something you are looking for, Landmark Booksellers has a one-day wait on new books. So let them order it for you!)

The building, which was once home to a jewelry store, is the oldest commercial building in Franklin. Its history and architecture attracted the couple to open their business  and continues to attract tourists today. While they have a solid foundation of loyal, local customers, they also have the benefit of incoming tourists. Two books that have brought a lot of folks in? The Widow of the South, by Robert Hicks, and The Bridge, by Karen Kingsbury (loosely based on the bookstore).


[Update: BookManBookWoman closed their doors at the end of 2016. We were deeply sorry to see them go!]

Saralee Woods and husband Larry are both avid readers, and Larry has always, always been a collector. Together, they visited bookstores and book auctions during their travels, amassing an impressive collection. With their sights set on Hillsboro Village, the pair decided to open a bookstore to sell some of Larry’s collection of 100,000+ books.

More than 20 years ago, they opened the doors to BookMan in the space that is now home to the Pancake Pantry, and with the help of their beloved customers, they hand carried all of the books across the street to their current location. The move took place on Easter morning in 1998 and their new space later expanded to become BookManBookWoman, after they purchased the building next door. The wide and unusual selection of books attracts newcomers and repeat customers alike. One thing is for sure, everyone is a fan of the 20 percent discount applied to new books. Almost one third of BookManBookWoman’s sales are new books, and the rest are the new-to-them and gently used books that arrive each week. Allow yourself to stroll the aisles of this Hillsboro Village shop!

Rhino Booksellers

4918 Charlotte Ave., Nashville • (615) 279-0310
Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

4006 Granny White Pike, Nashville • (615) 279-0309
Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Rhino Books is a Nashville favorite, and it’s easy to see why. From the moment you walk through the doors, the smell of old books is as comforting as a freshly baked apple pie. Fred Koller, Rhino’s owner, moved back to Nashville in 1979 after closing his beloved bookstore in California, and he’s been sharing his love for books with Music City ever since. His knowledge of the literary world is legendary, and being that he’s a former musician, having written hundreds of songs with his buddy Shel Silverstein, you’ll find a nice assortment of vinyl at the shop, as well. Rhino has approximately 75,000 titles. The back room is filled with first editions, while the vault is where you can find the priceless books that Fred has collected. Rhino Books is a must-see on your bookstore tour. After shopping, crack your new reads over coffee next door at Headquarters, another Nashville gem!

Elder’s Bookstore

101 White Bridge Road, Nashville • (615) 352-1562
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Not only do the folks at Elder’s invite you to search their selection of hard-to-find, out-of-print, used and rare books, they will even hunt one down if there is something specific you are looking for. Elder’s has been in business since 1930, when Charles Elder, a Vanderbilt graduate, opened his doors on Fourth Avenue. His love of history and books can still be felt in the space today, now located on White Bridge Road and owned by his son, Randy.

In its 78th year, Elder’s Bookstore is the oldest bookstore in Tennessee. The selection of books ranges from local, Civil War and genealogy to antique children’s books, prints and maps. Randy has been working in the store since age 5, and his extensive knowledge, desire to educate his customers and knack for finding rare books is undeniable. And while his personal interest is in antique children’s books and collecting albums (think cigarette cards and family pictures), Elder’s houses numerous titles and will also appraise your items.


636 Old Hickory Blvd. Nashville • (615) 353-2595
Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(There are also locations in Knoxville and Chattanooga.)

McKay’s is the megastore of all things used media. While it is primarily a used bookstore, you will also find plenty of vinyl records, books on CD, video games, computer games, board games, CDs, DVDs, record players, cameras, DVD players and more. Many parents start at McKay’s to pick up their children’s summer reading lists, and you can often fulfill the list for less than $10. Need coffee table books, and more concerned about size and color than actual content? Start here. Going on a trip? Browse the books on CD. And, if you’re really a true bargain hunter, in a move that even Ms. Cheap would be fond of, when that trip is done, turn the books on CD back in for cash back or trade-in value. Ba bam! That’s a high only a true bargainista can feel!

McKay’s is warehouse-size huge and has something for everyone. If you have books (or other items) that you’d like to sell or trade, visit McKay’s website for their rules, which are specific. Also, know that you won’t get a lot of money for your items, but you’re also not paying a lot for items that you purchase. We usually go for the trade value and then find some new media, right then and there, that suits our fancy.

Yeoman’s In the Fork

4216 Old Hillsboro Road, Franklin • (615) 983-6460
Private inquiries welcomed 

A long-time, go-to destination for rare books and documents, Yeoman’s In the Fork sits in a building that is as historic as the products on its shelves. Since its origination in 1881, the building (according to Rick Warwick) has been home to many, including professors and boarding students of Hillsboro High School. It was purchased in 1998 by Laura Hill, who remodeled the residence and sold the home to Crye-Leike Realtors. The house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to Yeoman’s In the Fork and the many books they house. Book collectors and bibliophiles flocked to this bookstore in Leiper’s Fork for the six years they were in business.

Last June, the bookstore closed to the public and is now a private collection. The owners have moved to Internet sales, private sales and auctions. Their wares (books, ephemera, maps and beyond), they felt, were not amenable to having a retail presence, but they still accept private inquires from collectors and those interested in what they have to offer. We are glad to see they continue to share their collection with the public, even if they are not functioning as a traditional bookstore.

We shall leave you with one more quote from another great. In the words of Mark Twain: “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” 


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About the Author
Alex Hendrickson

Alex is a Southern writer known for hunting down delicious stories and traveling the world with hunger. Her passions and interests lie in food, travel, interior design and inspiring people, and her dream is to eat a dozen oysters a day.