The Tattered Cover bookstore has been a Denver institution since 1971. Recently sold to a group of investors, the bookstore will now become the country’s largest Black-led bookseller.
It was purchased by Denver natives Kwame Spearman and David Back, though previous owners Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan will remain with the store in an unofficial capacity through June. Vlahos and Gilligan had enjoyed a steady stream of business until the pandemic hit and made it difficult to stay financially viable.
The bookstore, since opening in 1971, has expanded to four locations around Denver. The new ownership will have a board of directors that includes seasoned industry veterans like John Sargent, departing CEO of Macmillan, and Oren Teicher, retired CEO of the American Booksellers Association. Dick Monfort, the owner of the Colorado Rockies, is also coming on as an investor.
Although David Back acknowledged that purchasing a physical bookstore is a risky business proposition these days, he told the Associated Press that “the risks and reward are commensurate,” and remains optimistic about the store’s financial prospects. Planning to expand the store’s online presence and host more in-store events post-pandemic, he’s confident that the Tattered Cover will be poised for growth. “This is not just a bookstore,” he said, “this is the Tattered Cover.”