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The following press release went out a few minutes ago. Yes, life really is this good.
Tattered Cover Owner Chooses Successor
Joyce Meskis to retire from business in two years
March 26, 2015 (Denver, CO) – Joyce Meskis, owner of the Tattered Cover, Inc., announced today that she reached an agreement with long-time book industry veterans Len Vlahos and his wife, Kristen Gilligan to assume control of the business over a two-year time frame. Mr. Vlahos and Ms. Gilligan will join the senior management team of the Tattered Cover on July 1, 2015, and acquire a controlling interest in the business on July 1, 2017. At that point Ms. Meskis will retire and thereafter be available on an as needed basis. More specific terms of the deal were not made public.
“Len and Kristen are exceptionally well-qualified and well-suited to guide the Tattered Cover through the opportunities and challenges of the future,” said Ms. Meskis. “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.”
“To become part of the fabric of Tattered Cover is literally a dream come true,” Vlahos said. “The important role bookstores play—as conduits for the free flow of ideas and as stewards of the culture—is essential to the health and well being of our communities. There is no better example of what an indie bookstore can and should be than Tattered Cover. I’m deeply honored that Joyce has confidence in Kristen and me to join the team and lead the business into the future.”
When Joyce Meskis purchased Tattered Cover in 1974, it was a small, struggling 950-square foot shop in the Cherry Creek North neighborhood of Denver. Over the next forty-one years she and the booksellers who joined her built an internationally-recognized store known for exceptional service and loyalty to the greater Denver community.
Tattered Cover now owns and operates four retail stores in and around the city, including on Colfax Avenue, in Lower Downtown, in the newly refurbished Denver Union Station, and soon to open in the Aspen Grove Shopping Center in Littleton the store formerly located in Highlands Ranch. There are also three licensed store locations at Denver International airport with one more to follow.
The business has weathered a series of economic challenges: the boom and bust years in Colorado; the roll out of chain superstores; the advent of e-commerce and the rise of digital books; as well as the recent great recession. Yet, Tattered Cover has persevered and remained one of Denver’s most cherished literary and cultural institutions.
Ms. Meskis, 73, is a former president of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and has been honored by numerous organizations for her lifelong and steadfast commitment to free speech and First Amendment rights, including the American Library Association’s (ALA) Award for Free Expression. She was also the recipient of the distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Achievement and Exceptional Service to the Denver Metropolitan Area from the University of Colorado, and served seven years as the Director of the Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. Several Authors’ Associations have honored the Tattered Cover for its support. Over the years the store has hosted thousands of author events celebrating first timer and veteran, the controversial to the beloved, all as a community service.
Len Vlahos is currently the Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group—a national, member-based non-profit devoted to facilitating innovation and shared solutions on behalf of the book publishing industry. Prior to that he had a twenty-year career at the American Booksellers Association, leaving as the Chief Operating Officer in 2011. Before ABA, Vlahos was a bookseller in independent, university, and chain bookstores. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed The Scar Boys (Egmont USA)—a finalist for ALA’s William C. Morris Award for best debut teen fiction of 2014—along with the forthcoming sequel, Scar Girl. He recently signed a two-book deal with Bloomsbury publishers for two new works of young adult fiction.
Kristen Gilligan—a book industry veteran as well—had a decade-long career at the American Booksellers Association, leaving as the Director of Meetings and Events. Before ABA, Gilligan was a bookseller and managed an independent bookstore in Chappaqua, New York. She currently works on special projects for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) and prior to that for the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). Gilligan is also a former resident of Boulder, Colorado. Vlahos, Gilligan, and their two young sons are relocating to Denver from Stamford, Connecticut.
“I’ve experienced first hand how the profession of bookselling changes lives,” Gilligan said. “There’s a magic and a magnetism in seeing the right book find its way to the right customer. I am thrilled beyond belief that I will have the opportunity to help Tattered Cover continue and grow its great tradition of bookselling in Denver.”
Tattered Cover’s General Manager Matt Miller, who has worked with Ms. Meskis at the store for over 36 years, has served on both the Board of Directors of the ABA as well as ABFFE, and has also worked directly with Mr. Vlahos and Ms. Gillian in that capacity, said the following:
“It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to work with Joyce these many years, building a business that is so rewarding and so important to the community. Having known and worked with Len and Kristen over the years, I can think of no better scenario for the future of the store than for them to take reins as Joyce transitions toward retirement. I am confident that they will bring continuity and vitality to the Tattered Cover through their commitment, talent, and vision for decades to come. I am looking forward to working with them toward that goal.”
“Joyce Meskis helped create the modern independent bookstore,” said Oren Teicher. ABA’s Chief Executive Officer. “She served our organization with great distinction as a Board Member and President, and her leadership on First Amendment and free expression issues is legendary. That Tattered Cover will continue under the expert leadership of Kristen Gilligan and Len Vlahos reinforces the good news surrounding indie bookstores of late. I can say with complete confidence that all of us associated with indie bookstores are smiling broadly with this announcement.”