Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis talks about forty years of selling books

Categories: Books

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Steve Cogil opened the first Tattered Cover on the corner of East Second Avenue and Detroit Street in Cherry Creek in 1971. It was small -- less than a thousand square feet. Three years later, Joyce Meskis took the reins of the space. In the decades since, the Cherry Creek space moved again and expanded into a four-story institution. That location closed in 2006, but not before the Tattered Cover expanded into three metro locations, in LoDo, on Colfax and in Highlands Ranch. To celebrate the independently owned bookstore's anniversary, there will be daily drawings for a $20 gift certificate at each location as well as other games for steep discounts on books, stationery and whatever else they carry. Find out more, or read customer-submitted stories about the store at the website. For more from Meskis, read below:

Westword (Jenny An): How has the book industry changed in the last forty years?

Joyce Meskis: Well, let me see [chuckles]. Dramatically. We have gone from print -- ink on paper between boards -- to an electronic form of books. Of course we still have paper books and we love them, but it is a major shift in our industry.

Also, a lot has happened in the way of consolidation of publishing. While we still have many thousand publishers out there, certainly the Big Six [Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House, Simon & Schuster] have gotten larger and more consolidated.

WW: How has what the Tattered Cover does changed?

JM: Philosophically, not at all. We're part of the community and of the community. We're here to provide the best service we can, and we feel like we've been heart and soul in the community of Denver and Highlands Ranch.

WW: What can people find in a Tattered Cover that they wouldn't be able to find in a Barnes and Noble?

JM: Every independent bookstore is a product of its community, and the money stays here.

WW: What are some uniquely Colorado titles that you carry?

JM: Any book by a Colorado author, we're happy to have on our shelves. We're very pleased to see more new writing from Colorado writers and many new friends as well Barbara Cole, Stephen White and Tom Noel.

WW: Where do you see the business five years from now?

JM: I think we'll have a lot more electronic books available but I don't think we'll see the end of print books, by any means. There's still the book as part object. People still like to feel it, hold it, engage with it in a way that is not electronic.

WW: What has surprised you the most in the last forty years?

JM: Something surprises me every day. The joy inherent in bringing people and books together never stops.

WW: What is the magic there?

JM: I think it's the magic of watching the reader and writer come together. Different readers, different writers, a constant cultural motion.

WW: What made you want to start a bookstore?

JM: My entrance into book-selling was accidental, to start with. I found myself working in bookstores and libraries to help pay the tuition bills in college and loved it.

WW: And what does the Tattered Cover offer that a website like Amazon can't?

JM: The physicality. There is a magic of place in any bookstore. To be able to peruse titles on a shelf, there's nothing else like it.

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