Tattered Cover, Here We Come!

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.”


13 Commentsto Tattered Cover, Here We Come!

  1. […] First if you have not already downloaded a Kindle First book for February. Next Week’s Guest Len Vlahos, new owner of The Tattered Cover Bookstore in […]

  2. Ed Lachterman says:

    Wow! What an awesome opportunity to chase your dreams and to be able to share them with your wife! Best of luck!

  3. Rob Menschel says:

    Congratulations on a most exciting adventure.

    Congratulations on leaving New York City.

    A word of warning however: baseball games at Coors Field are a different animal than what you are used to. Always bring an umbrella and figure you’re the winner if the game takes less than 3 1/2 hours.

    And don’t trade the Mets for the Rockies.

    Way to go!

    • Len Vlahos says:

      Thanks Rob! My sons and I discussed the Rockies/Mets dilemma and decided we would remain Mets fans (painful as that is), though we’ll root for the Rockies whenever they’re NOT playing the Mets. One of the Tattered Cover locations is three blocks from Coors Field. Since the Dodgers play the Rockies a lot, are you in Denver a couple of times a year? Would love to get together when you are…

      Oh, and since I am leaving New York, you can pretty much guarantee the Mets a spot in the playoffs. Start printing tickets now. You’re welcome.

  4. Len and Kristen and Family,

    Congratulations! As the publisher of Flying Pen Press in Denver, I welcome all of you to our fine city and wish you many, many years of success and happines at The Tattered Cover, one of Denver’s finest institutions. Joyce could not have picked better stewards of this Colorado icon. I have known the store since it’s early beginnings on 2nd Ave. in Cherry Creek North; it has been an inspiration to me, over and over.

    Once you are settled, I would enjoy treating you to dinner with my family, and to share with you my insights into the Denver book-buyer demographics. If there is anything that I or Flying Pen Press can do to help celebrate this phase of your career or to make the transition to the Mile High City, you only need ask.

    Keep ’em Flying,
    David A. Rozansky, Publisher
    Flying Pen Press

  5. Kent Watson says:

    Len: Congratulations to you and your wife Kristen for the great news that you will be taking charge of the Tattered Cover. The Tattered Cover means a lot to me as I started my publishing career at the Cherry Creek store. Please let me know if I can (or members of PubWest) can be of any help.


    Kent Watson
    Executive Director

  6. Jim Carretta says:


    Congrats Len, to you, Kristen and to the Tattered Cover. What great news…

  7. Carolyn(Aunt Carol) says:

    OMG!!!WOW. WOW & WOW again !!!!!
    Len & Krissy you know how thrilled we are for you

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