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Tattered Cover Fields Bid From Barnes & Noble, Cancels Bankruptcy Auction

A former Tattered Cover location in Denver's Lower Downtown neighborhood.

The Tattered Cover, a Denver institution, could end its reign as an independently owned bookstore with a sale to Barnes & Noble after a canceled auction Wednesday.

According to The Denver Gazette, its planned auction was canceled shortly before it was set to start, and Tattered Cover is now considering a bid from Barnes & Noble.

After half a century of private ownership, Tattered Cover sold to Bended Page, an investment group, in 2020. Tattered Cover filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October and closed three of its seven locations in metro Denver.

Legal documents show the chain owes its creditors nearly $3.4M in unsecured claims. Court filings reportedly listed at least eight interested bidders considering the purchase of Tattered Cover.

A Barnes & Noble spokesperson didn't deny the company’s bid for Tattered Cover but declined to comment further to the Gazette.

The number of bookstores in the U.S. has dropped dramatically, in part due to the growing popularity of e-books and competition from online retailers. More than 1,000 bookstores reportedly closed between 2000 and 2007. Borders, once the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain, went out of business and closed about 400 locations in 2011.

Barnes & Noble has experienced something of a renaissance in the last few years after CEO James Daunt took the reins in 2019

Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, said in an April press release that more than 200 independent bookstores opened last year in the United States and many existing bookstores expanded and evolved.

While the Barnes & Noble bid isn't a done deal, the Gazette also reported that Daunt has his own independent bookstore chain in the UK.