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Best-selling author helps Franklin bookstore stay afloat during COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 6:36 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 07:36:42-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — “It was another gift from God.” That’s how Carol Tomlin describes the moment orders for books started coming into her email last week.

Carol and her husband Joel have owned Landmark Booksellers on Main Street in historic Franklin for 15 years. The first gift happened a few years ago when New York Times best-selling author Karen Kingsbury stopped in the store with her editor.

“She told me I would love this store,” said Kingsbury. “I walked in and the history was speaking from the walls to my heart. And I fell in love with Joel and Carol. You can see their love for each other, others and God,” Kingsbury added.

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Best-selling author Karen Kingsbury

It touched her so much, that after the visit Kingsbury wrote a book called “The Bridge” and it’s set in the bookstore and its main characters are inspired by the Tomlins.

The book was a hit and Kingsbury’s followers who wanted to meet the people and see the place that had inspired “The Bridge.”

“They will come in and want us to sign books, our photograph and picture. Our children find it so amusing,” Carol chuckled.

“Joel and Carol have seamlessly and beautifully stepped into the roles of those characters so they have been living a life that is real life meets fiction for the last six years,” Karen said.

It was also good for their business.

The recent events with the coronavirus pandemic have been trying for most small businesses, including the Tomlin’s bookstore.

“We went from doing the business we were doing to doing nothing almost overnight, it was overnight literally,” Joel said.

The Tomlin’s offered pick up service and delivery, but business had slowed so badly Carol says she didn’t know what they were going to do.

“I was on my knees praying for a miracle,” she said.

And it came.

Kingsbury called about a week ago to check on the Tomlins and received the grim business report. After she hung up, she called her literary team and made a plan to help them.

In a Facebook live last Tuesday, Kingsbury asked her followers to pre-order her newest book, which is set for release next month, through Landmark Booksellers – and they did.

“They could have bought it cheaper on Amazon,” Kingsbury said. “But they wanted to help so badly.”

“It is a miracle,” Joe exclaimed.

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Joel and Carol Tomlin

It has certainly seemed that way. In the first 24 hours, they had $50,000 in pre-orders for Kingsbury’s new book and in 48 hours, it had doubled to $110,000.

“That’s the equivocal of us being open plus few months and what she has provided is a way for us to be in business and stay in business,“ Joel said.

Kingsbury credited her readers and said that’s how much they care about helping people and wanted to do what they could to save the store.

She credits God for orchestrating it all.

“The response is just so much bigger than us, right? When you look, the Lord knows what you need.”

In “The Bridge” Kingsbury saves the fictitious store from a flood. In real life, she saved the Tomlins from a flood of despair after helping rewrite their ending.

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