Denver’s BookBar bookstore and wine bar is marking the seventh anniversary of its founding in by changing its business model. While it expands its reach out into the larger community with new initiatives that extend beyond retail, BookBar is slightly downsizing its book inventory with more face-out titles as well as reducing seating areas to prevent congestion during the current public health crisis. BookBar is also expanding its event space and bar menu to allow it to provide full bar service and musical accompaniment during literary events once the store begins scheduling them again.
"Some of these changes already were in the works, but were accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic," owner Nicole Sullivan explained in a release. "All of these changes are exactly the direction in which I've been wanting to take BookBar."
Most immediately, as of June 1, BookBar will pump up the nonprofit division it launched in 2018, BookGive, by donating 10% of all book sales to the community-wide book exchange and free distribution program. A former gas station in North Denver is currently being renovated by BookBar to become a BookGive “literary giving center.”
At the same time, BookBar is introducing its Valuable Indie Patrons (V.I.P.) membership program that it expects will both benefit BookGive and enhance the customer experience: for an annual $50 fee that can be written off as a tax-deductible donation to BookGive, V.I.P. members will be invited to participate in special shopping hours and other exclusive in-store events, as well as receive discounts and swag.
in addition, BookBar is in the process of launching BookBar Press, a publishing imprint that Sullivan describes as focusing upon “literary, under-served voices, whose stories reflect the shared experience of our community." The imprint will be headed by newly-hired publishing director Heather Garbo, a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute. BookBar Press’s first titles are a compilation of poetry, In Praise of January by Shirley Sullivan, and a collection of plays entitled Bite-Size, first performed at BookBar in 2018 in partnership with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
“We’re also looking forward to publishing our own content,” Sullivan told PW, “A cookbook and also a children's book about the adventures of our book mobile, Mavis the Magical BookMobile, and our delivery bike, BookBike Mike.”
In conjunction with BookBar Press, BookBar will launch a writer-in-residence program, with visiting writers provided with lodging in an apartment upstairs from the bookstore that previously served as an Airbnb rental for the past four years. Sullivan explained that she and her staff are still working out the details of this new program with their local partners, and that it will encompass both BookGive and BookBar Press in some way.