Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Tattered Cover Book Store - Denver, CO

Tattered Cover Book Store - Denver, CO

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've visited many independent bookstores, several of them in buildings that have enjoyed a previous life and now have been refashioned into wonderful bookstores.  The only limitations on the redesigns are the creativity of the owners and managers.  The Tattered Cover Bookstore located on Colfax Ave. here in Denver (there are two other locations), is a building that previously was the Historic Bonfils/Lowenstein Theater.  The theater closed in 1967?, sat vacant for 20 years?, and was then reincarnated into what you see now, The Tattered Cover.  Very cool.

Many of us are used to seeing lines outside places of business before they open.  We've all seen it at an Apple Store or Best Buy before releases of new products.  Here at Tattered Cover, on a Wednesday morning, I'm waiting for the store to open at 9am along with many other customers.   When I see people waiting to enter an independent bookstore before it opens, on a weekday, I'm impressed.  Upon entering you can see a theater that now houses a bookstore.  You see the box seating areas, the lobby, lower level area below the lobby, the pit, the stage, backstage, and huge backstage door which was probably used for scenery back in the day.  Tattered Cover has done a great job of honoring the theater's past and molding it into its current bookstore form.  And, of course, there are books everywhere, new and used.  They have a great book buy-back program here where customers receive store credits to buy more books.  This program is huge and is evidence of great local support.

In addition to books, there is a great café where you can enjoy a baked item with your coffee and then later you can grab a light lunch because you won't be leaving this indie anytime soon.  You will also find many "sidelines," all those extras that indies must carry in order to be successful.  The lower level has a wonderful children's section and this lower level is where they host author events.  In keeping with the theater's past, framed and autographed pictures of authors are mounted in many areas as if they're the actors who've appeared in a stage production.  There are an incredible array of magazines here, mostly in the theater lobby area.  One of the things I really enjoy are the many nooks and crannies you can find to try out a book.  Go sit in one of the original theater chairs down in the pit and try a book there.

Regular readers will also know how much I enjoy meeting the staffers and Tattered Cover is no exception.  Wonderful people with more recommendations than you can imagine for your next must read.  Leslie, Jeannie, and Stephanie could not have been kinder and more patient with my questions about the store and everything about it.  This particular location has only been here for about 8 years when they moved from the Cherry Creek location.  They closed the old location on a Saturday night  and reopened on Monday morning in the new location.  That's what I call fantastic community support and also an acknowledgement to the person who organized that entire operation.  Well done!

When you visit Denver, take time to go check out a place on Colfax Ave.  A place on the national historic register, that now houses a wonderful theater of books.  It kind of feels like a bookstore in a theater museum.  You will love it.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.


Thanks to the help of many others at Tattered Cover, I was able to meet the owner, Joyce Meskis two days after my visit to the store.  I tell you if you get the chance to meet or visit with Joyce, do not pass it up.  Her success over the years is clearly obvious but she doesn't limit herself to a bookstore.  The problem I had meeting Joyce is that she's so darn busy.  She is involved as an administrator at Denver University with the Publishing Institute, an intensive 4 week session for aspiring publishers, as I understand it.  My only regret is that I didn't get to spend more time talking to Joyce about all things indie and all things books.  It seems to me she is a wonderful role model of how to be successful and how to do it the right way.  Keep selling books, Joyce, and thanks for a great visit.

JUST FINISHED:  Die Trying, Lee Child.  Great read.  Readers Fran M. and Bill H. would enjoy this.

CURRENTLY READING:  Vroman's Of Pasadena, Jane Apostol.  History of this great independent bookstore.  Loving it.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez.  Getting some buzz.  Dog Songs, Mary Oliver.  Poetry.  How did I get talked into this?  Good indie book sellers, that's how!

Before that open sign was turned around, there were lots of customers waiting to enter here.  

Another exterior view.  

This is the lobby area of what used to be the theater.  You would then enter the theater for a show on the right.  Lots of magazines in this area.  

Great area also in the lobby space.

Still in the lobby area.  Very cool.  

Some of the sidelines, including greeting cards.  

This is from a theater box looking towards the stage.  All of the books are in the area of the theater where the seats were located.  

Honoring the theater's past.  

Don't want to buy new?  Lots of used to pick from at this independent.  

It's always great to see a cafe as part of the bookstore.  

Lower level below the theater.  Great seats to try out a book and they also host some author events in this area.  

I haven't seen a men's bathroom in an independent as great as this one!  Practical and artistic all in one!  I cannot vouch for any similar claims to the women's as I was unable to gain access to that area.  

Wonderful children's area downstairs.  

More of the many sidelines available here.  

These people were great!  L-R, Jeannie, Stephanie, yours truly, and Leslie.  Thanks for a great visit!  

View of the theater looking from the stage out toward the audience.  

On stage and I could definitely spend a lot of time in this spot.  

Looking directly off the stage and into the pit orchestra.  These are some of the original theater seats.  

A great display of staff picks.  

Looks like a theater from the outside, but wait until you go in!  

I'm a lucky bookstore customer to get to meet the Tattered Cover owner, Joyce Meskis.  Thanks Joyce and continued success in selling books!  


  1. I grew up in Denver at the Tattered Covers earlier locations. When I worked downtown, the LoDo store was home from home, and now when I visit, I take my nieces to the Highlands Ranch store. Next time, I think I deserve a trip to to Colfax store. Thanks for convincing me. It spoils you, growing up with a fabulous indie store. And it makes you want to seek them out wherever you are. We have at least three great indies here in Bellingham, WA.

    I have My Favorite Bookstore, and what a great idea for travel. Will be reading your blog from now on.

    A fellow bibliophile. :)

  2. Thanks for the comments, Rebecca. I'm sure you've been to Village Books in Bellingham which is another outstanding indie. Say hello to Chuck & Dee Robinson the next time you're there. And you're going to love the new Tattered Cover when you get to visit there. If I were in Denver they'd never get rid of me! Thanks for reading and following!