The Tattered Cover's Tattered Covers

So I went into the LoDo branch of everyone's favorite independent bookstore today and found they'd rearranged the natural order of things. The bargain books section is gone, the remainder of the remainders are now sprinkled among the full retail titles in fiction, biography, etc.

As an epic news event, this ranks somewhere below the retreat of the polar ice caps. But it does say something about the shifting climate for indies in the cut-rate, cutthroat book world. In its heyday, the Tattered Cover had an entire floor dedicated to bargain titles, including some really marvelous stuff you couldn't readily find in used book stores. Then came the chain stores, with their heavy discounts on bestsellers, and the attack of the online markdowns, from amazon to ebay to abebooks.

The bargain section was whittled down to an alcove, then...nada.

All that competition has made it harder for Tattered Cover to keep the kind of inventory (including the bargain section) they used to stock. I get that. Still, being able to wander shelves of reasonably priced, eccentric lit crit and even (whoa!) small-press poetry is one of the pleasures that set TC apart from the chains. The new arrangement may make sense to the marketing folks — hide the increasingly scanty bargain offerings amid the full-price goodies, and thus prompt more impulse buys from our regular stock — but it's confusing and a bit aesthetically challenged, since the bargain offerings now carry a kind of yellow crime-tape on their spines to set them apart from the live ones.

For a place named for its more battered books, this seems like an odd way to bury its dead. – Alan Prendergast

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Sean Cronin