We Bought America’s Most Iconic Bookstore

In 2015, Kristen Gilligan and Len Vlahos agreed to purchase the Tattered Cover Bookstore from longtime owner Joyce Meskis. The deal was front page news in Denver, but the move left the couple wondering, “What do we now?”

Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan

Pubwest 2016 LogoFor the opening keynote of this weekend’s PubWest Conference in Santa Fe, Gilligan and Vlahos held an informal yet informative conversation about the role of independent bookstores in the larger publishing ecosystem. They drew on their experience of moving cross-country with two young children and settling into life in Colorado and at the Tattered Cover—as well as on their long careers in the book industry (both worked over many years for the American Booksellers Association and Len, most recently, was executive director of the Book Industry Study Group) —to set out their visions for bookselling and publishing today and in the future.

“What I would hope you would take away from this it to understand that we are partners,” Vlahos told the several hundred independent book publishers assembled at the historic La Fonda Hotel. “Be bold with us, be creative. Talk to us. There is a lot of opportunity to break down walls. We want to sell more of your books, and we want you to sell more of your books. You deal with us (independent bookstores) individually but collectively as a channel it’s quite potent.”

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2 Responses to “We Bought America’s Most Iconic Bookstore”

  1. KC Redding-Gonzalez February 10, 2016 at 10:35 am #

    Congratulations! From a bookseller/writer who works at the competition big name brick and mortar…the best of luck and longevity. What is clear to me is that we need competition to best serve the customer — the book reader. And welcome to Colorado! Now let’s kick some Amazon butt.

  2. Cynthia Olsen March 9, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    I appreciate this talk. it was informative and I wish you well in your new venture!

    I have self published since 1990. Our books did really well for several years. I believe the industry has changed dramatically making things more challenging in promoting and marketing. There are lots of books in the marketplace. It’s one thing to have book orders. The most vital is how well will those books sell in the stores?
    Truly will continue supporting the smaller independent book stores. Tattered cover is a prime example of how successful this type of store can be!

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