The Tattered Cover’s owner, Joyce Meskis, picks her successors

March 26, 2015
Photo: Tattered Cover, downtown Denver, book stacks and customers
Browsing at the downtown Tattered Cover book Store in Denver. It's a celebrated independent bookstore. 

Tattered Cover is a rare thing these days: an independent bookstore that has not only survived upheavals in the publishing and retail business, but has actually expanded.

Joyce Meskis, who is 73 years old, has helmed the iconic Denver bookseller through all that tumult as well as the Great Recession. Now she's decided to put a retirement plan into action. In two years, she'll hand over the Tattered Cover to a couple of book industry pros: Len Vlahos and his wife, Kristen Gilligan. She told CPR's Pat Mack more about her plan: 

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Vlahos is the Executive Director of the non-profit Book Industry Study Group, "a national, member-based non-profit devoted to facilitating innovation and shared solutions on behalf of the book publishing industry," the bookstore says in a statement. He also has an extensive background in running bookstores, and is a published author of teen literature.

"Their energy, passion, philosophical faith in the importance of the role bookselling plays in the community and solid commitment to the strength of its future, ensures my confidence in the longevity of the Tattered Cover in their hands," Meskis said in an announcement today.

Gilligan has held key positions at the American Booksellers Association, and managed a bookstore in New York State. She's also worked on projects for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and for the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Plus she's a former Boulder resident.

The business they'll run began as a small operation in Cherry Creek that that eventually grew to locations in LoDo and in Union Station, on Colfax Avenue and in Littleton. There are even Tattered Cover-licensed retail locations at Denver International Airport.

"To become part of the fabric of Tattered Cover is literally a dream come true," Vlahos said. "I am thrilled beyond belief," Gilligan added.

Photo: Author Peter Heller at the Tattered Cover Book Store
Author Peter Heller (right) talks with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner at the Tattered Cover Book Store on Colfax in Denver.

Colorado Matters at the Tattered. Some memorable conversations in those shows have included former U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill, the Paralympian snowboarder Amy Purdy, and Colorado author Peter Heller.