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Bookstores We Love

14 November 2016 Written by   Charlotte Steinhardt

The University Press of Colorado and Utah State University Press are excited to participate in the 2016 AAUP Press Week blog tour! Today's theme, "Indie Bound," reminded us how thankful we are to have such wonderful local independent bookstores supporting our authors in Colorado and Utah.

The Boulder Book Store, founded in 1973 and located at the west end of the historic Pearl Street Mall is renowned for its employees' encyclopedic knowledge of classic and recent literature and for their ready willingness to help customers to obtain any book in print, within and beyond the 100,000 titles kept in stock. The store provides rare service not only to its readers, but to the greater Boulder community: owner David Bolduc has advocated for independent, local businesses as part of the "shop local" movement for more than ten years and is a founding member of the Boulder Independent Business Alliance, one of the first organizations of its kind in the United States.

The Boulder Book Store hosts some 200 events every year, many in its historic upstairs ballroom. Recent speakers include the University Press of Colorado's own Robert R. Crifasi, author of A Land Made from Water: Appropriation and the Evolution of Colorado's Landscape, Ditches, and Water Institutions; Tom Noel and Craig Leavitt, authors of Herndon Davis: Painting Colorado History, 1901–1962; Gail Beaton, author of Colorado Women: A History; and Emily Pérez, who read from her new volume House of Sugar, House of Stone for the Living Poets Society Poetry Bookclub.



Robert Crifasi signs copies of A Land Made from Water at the Boulder Book Store.


The Tattered Cover, now in its forty-fifth year, is one of the largest independent book stores in the United States, with five locations around the Denver area. As many as 400 authors speak at the Tattered Cover annually. Our own Tershia d'Elgin, sold out of copies when signing The Man Who Thought He Owned Water: On the Brink with American Farms, Cities, and Food at her recent even there. Other UPC and USUP authors who have had recent readings there include Kevin Holdsworth (Good Water), Emily Pérez (House of Sugar, House of Stone), and Tom Noel and Craig Leavitt (Herndon Davis). Upcoming presenters include Greg Robinson (The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches) and Mike Lala (Exit Theater).


LeavittNoelTattered Tershia1 Tershia2 

Tom Noel and Craig Leavitt (left) and Tershia d'Elgin (center and right) give readings at the Tattered Cover.


Beyond its in-store fundraisers and sponsorship of Reach Out and Read Colorado, the Tattered Cover has aided the Denver community through courageous advocacy for the privacy and First Amendment rights of its customers. Thanks to Joyce Meskis, owner of the Tattered Cover until just last year, third-party bookstores in Colorado are entitled to a hearing before a warrant seeking its customers' records can be executed. The groundbreaking 2000 case is described in more detail here and in the PBS documentary Reading Your Rights.

Utah bookstores have been similarly welcoming to USUP books and authors. Founded in 1977, Salt Lake City’s King’s English Bookshop houses the most comprehensive children’s book selection in the state of Utah as well as fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, nature books, and books by Western writers. Utah State University Press authors including Tim Sullivan (Ways to the West: How Getting Out of Our Cars Is Reclaiming America's Frontier), Kevin Holdsworth (Good Water), and Jim Steenburgh (Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth: Weather, Climate Change, and Finding Deep Powder in Utah's Wasatch Mountains and around the World) have been privileged to read at the King’s English. Like the Boulder Book Store and the Tattered Cover, the King’s English is a staunch supporter of its local economy: co-owner Betsy Burton serves as a co-chair of the board of Local First, a nonprofit promoting community businesses.

Weller Book Works, founded as Zion Bookstore by Mormon converts Gustav and Margaret Weller over eight decades ago, has consistently demonstrated dedication to serving local readers (many of whom volunteered to help the bookstore move its inventory to its current home in historic Trolley Square). The shop is now run by a third generation of the Weller family. USUP’s Jim Steenburgh presented Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth at Weller Book Works and was provided generous assistance for a number of additional events.

We are deeply grateful to the caring and knowledgeable people who found, manage, and provide service at these bookstores. They are an indispensable part of our local communities, the university press community, and the greater community of publishers and booksellers. Working with them is one of the great privileges of publishing books.