Goodbye Choctaw Books. It’s always sad when any bookstore closes its doors for the final time, but especially an independent bookstore. We are so very fortunate in Mississippi to still have a number of independent bookstores. That may be because the state is made up of small towns where big chain bookstores will not set up shop. Hooray for us!
A real pleasure for me when traveling is visiting independent bookstores. I think you can tell a few things about a place and its people from its bookstores — or lack thereof. The same week that Choctaw Books closed its doors, I had the delightful thrill of going to Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colo.
First of all, everything I saw in Colorado, including Denver, was clean, litter-free and full of active, healthy people, and the Tattered Cover Book Store in the historic lower downtown area of Denver was no exception. With two hours to browse before heading to the airport and armed with a generous Tattered Cover gift card, there was no better way I could imagine to spend part of my birthday, which happened to be that day.
Tattered Cover was opened in 1971 by Joyce Meskis with only 950 square feet of space. More than 40 years later, she has three locations in the Denver metro area, all large spaces. The one I visited is in an old huge, two-story brick building. It’s broken into nooks and crannies with lots of cushy chairs and sofas, lamps, posters, artwork and of course tons of books, glorious books. The feeling is welcoming and intimate with eye-pleasing displays and easy-to-find categories of books.
In My Bookstore, author Stephen White chooses Tattered Cover as his favorite place to browse, read and shop. He writes that one of owner Joyce Meskis’ principles of selling books the right way is her insistence that no customer should ever feel the slightest hesitation about carrying any purchase to a cash register. “Meeting the needs of everyone who entered her store was part of Joyce’s principle about selling books the right way.”
If your travels take you to Denver, be sure to make time to visit Tattered Cover. In the meantime, visit, visit and revisit the wonderful bookstores in Mississippi. Ordering books online can never take the place of experiencing a real bookstore.
— Lynn Lofton, firstname.lastname@example.org