Colorado’s Tattered Cover bookstore to become country’s largest Black-led bookseller

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A leading independent bookstore, the Colorado-based Tattered Cover, has been sold to a group of investors and will become the country’s biggest Black-led bookseller.

An investment group led by Denver natives Kwame Spearman, who will serve as CEO and operations supervisor, and David Back purchased the Tattered Cover for a massive amount of money. The prior owners, Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, will stay in an unofficial capacity through June.

They purchased the store out of longtime owner Joyce Meskis at 2015 and had enjoyed steady business before the pandemic this season led to a critical lack of revenues.The Tattered Cover opened in 1971, and today has four locations in and around Denver. The new ownership is going to have a board of directors including industry veterans as John Sargent, the leaving CEO of Macmillan, and Oren Teicher, the retired CEO of the American Booksellers Association, the trade group for independent shops. Other shareholders include Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort.

“This is not just a bookstore, this is the Tattered Cover,” Back, a former Tattered Cover cashier, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. He acknowledged it was risky to buy a physical bookstore in a time of rising dominance by Amazon.com. But he explained that” reward and risk are constantly commensurate” and was optimistic that via a range of adjustments — by a more powerful online presence to more in-store events — they could”build the foundations” for growth.

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