Tattered History

Anatomy of an Indie Bookstore

The Tattered Cover Book Store began as a small store with only 950 square feet of retail space and 2 employees in the Cherry Creek North district of Denver, Colorado. It has grown for 40 years into one of the premier bookstores in America with 3 expansive locations in the greater Denver Metro area: 1.) on Colfax Avenue, south of City Park; 2.) in Historic Lower Downtown, near Union Station; and 3.) at the Highlands Ranch Town Center, south of the city. Tattered Cover is an indie bookstore with lots of nooks & crannies that offer the intimacy and comfort of smaller bookshops, furnished with lots of sofas, overstuffed chairs, and antique tables for lounging and study; a cafe with free wi-fi; and a world-class newsstand in each location. Tattered Cover bookstores also sell used books, a rapidly growing part of the inventory in addition to new books and bargain editions. We are a Denver institution, a literary landmark, a community gathering place, and an experience you can't download.

The Tattered Cover has decades of experience hosting LIVE authors, averaging nearly 400 authors, illustrators, and other special guests each year, including such noted writers and celebrities as Buckminster Fuller, Julia Child, Margaret Atwood, President Barack Obama, Isabel Allende, Ansel Adams, Gunter Grass, Garrison Keillor, J. K. Rowling, Joan Didion, Jasper Fforde, Mary Oliver, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, President Bill Clinton, David Sedaris, Christopher Moore, Frank McCourt, Joseph Campbell, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Jonathan Lethem, Ruth Rendell, Neil Gaiman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, Peter Sis, Jenna Bush, Stephanie Meyer, Dan Simmons, Barbara Kingsolver, President Jimmy Carter, Tom McGuane, Larry McMurtry, Joyce Carol Oates, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Edward Abbey, Hunter S. Thompson, astronaut John Glenn, Newt Gingrich, Tomie dePaola, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Caroline Kennedy, Erica Jong, Karl Hiaasen, Dave Barry, Nick Hornby, Ian McEwan, Oscar Hijelos, Walter Moseley, Annie Proulx, Ha Jin, Umberto Eco, Richard Ford, Amy Tan, Tobias Wolff, Peter Mathiessen, John McPhee, and many, many more. 

Owner Joyce Meskis is one of the great guiding forces of independent bookselling in the country and a stubborn advocate for the rights of readers, literacy and free expression in America. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards for intellectual freedom including the William J. Brennan, Jr. Award for the Protection of Free Expression given by the Thomas Jefferson Center in Washington D.C.; the PEN/Newman First Amendment Award from the PEN American Center in New York; The Privacy International Brandeis Award; the American Library Association Award for Free Expression; and The Author’s Guild of America Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community. She is also the recipient of the distinguished Service Award for outstanding Achievement and Exceptional Service to the Denver Metropolitan Area from the University of Colorado Board of Regents. Joyce is the founder of the Colorado Freedom of Expression Foundation, and she is currently the director of the Publishing Institute at The University of Denver. 

Tattered Cover sells books online at www.tatteredcover.com and is well established across the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, and Blogspot, home of our Between the Covers blog.

The Tattered Cover is proud to be a part of IndieBound: Independent Bookstores for Independent Minds.


Tattered Timeline 

The first Tattered Cover Book Store opened in Cherry Creek North on Second Avenue.
September 1974:
Joyce Meskis purchased the Tattered Cover, which consisted of 950 square feet of retail space with two employees.
The Tattered Cover expanded seven different times into adjoining retail space.
January 1983:
Our second location opened one block east of the "Old Store." Both locations were retained for a single operation. The "Old Store" housed bargain books, sidelines, and some office functions. The new location housed general retail operations and receiving.
November 1986:
All of our retail and administrative operations moved into the Tattered Cover's new location on First Avenue in Cherry Creek.
August 1990:
All of our shipping and receiving operations were consolidated into the newly-purchased Historic LoDo warehouse buildings at 16th and Wynkoop and 16th and Wazee streets.
September 1990:
Our administrative offices and functions moved into the Historic LoDo building on Wynkoop.
October 1994:
We opened a small bookstore in the Historic LoDo building on the corner of 16th and Wynkoop, complete with a coffee bar and a newsstand. Nov. 1994:
Our cafe opened on the first floor of the Cherry Creek bookstore.
March 1995:
The Fourth Story Restaurant & Bar opened on the fourth floor of the Cherry Creek location.
October 1996:
The LoDo bookstore expanded to over 20,000 square feet of retail space, an author appearance and special events space that can seat over 300 people, and a full-service coffee shop.
July 2004:
Plans to open a third Tattered Cover location in Highlands Ranch, Colorado are announced.
November 15, 2004:
The Highlands Ranch Tattered Cover opens just in time for the holidays!
January 2006:
Plans to move the Cherry Creek store in June to a newly rennovated historic Lowenstein Theater are announced. Plans to close the Fourth Story Restaurant & Bar are also announced.
May 2006:
The Fourth Story Restaurant & Bar closes for business on May 31 after 11 wonderful years serving Cherry Creek and Denver diners.
June 2006:
On June 24, the Cherry Creek store is open for business for a final Saturday. The store closes early to begin the move to its new home, an old renovated theater on Colfax Avenue in Denver, east of downtown. Tattered Cover on Colfax opened for business at 9 am on June 26, 2006 as an all-new "theater of ideas"!

Early in 2010: Tattered Cover bookstores began selling used books, now a rapidly growing part of the inventory, along with new and bargain books.

2011: Celebrating 40 years in the book business!