In early 1930, a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University opened a small shop on Nashville's Fourth Avenue, where the L&C Tower would someday stand. It was the beginning of the Great Depression and Charles Elder was taking a gamble.
But he did know one thing...he loved history and he loved books.
That small shop was the beginning of Elder's Bookstore, on of the landmarks of Tennessee and the South. Today in its 78th year, Elder's Bookstore is the oldest general bookstore in continuous operation in Nashville and the state of Tennessee.
Charles Elder was the dean of Nashville booksellers until his retirement at the age of 93. He started our store in the depths of the Great Depression. Nationally known as an expert on ephemera and manuscripts, he was also widely versed in maps and early Tennessee history. He was the winner of the Frances Neel Cheney Award by the Tennessee Library Association and was honored by the Tennessee Booksellers Convention in 1990 for his lifetime of service to the industry. Since his retirement, his son Randy Elder has become owner and operator of the business.
From his earliest days, Randy Elder has been around books, reading them and helping his father buy and sell them. He started as a partner and sales manager and is now owner. He has been responsible for the store's rise to the status of foremost re-publisher of early Tennessee and Nashville history books. Under his direction, Elder's has become one of the premier dealers in 20th century literature, particularly Southern Literature, in the United States.
If you have not visited our store, we invite you to stop in while you are in Nashville and browse. You may never want to leave our world of books.
What our customers say:
"I don't know what I'd do without Elder's Bookstore. I've collected books most of my life and Elder's has as fine a selection as anyplace I know."
- James Crutchfield, co-author of Franklin, Tennessee's Handsomest Town.
"Elder's Bookstore is the last place of its kind in Nashville - a place where you can go spend an afternoon with ideas and people you like"
- Jimmy Buffet, Musician