This week, Troubadour Books of Boulder, Colorado, is celebrating its first year in business and the start of its second. The 700-square-foot general bookstore, owned by Deb Evans, specializes in books and magazines on the performing arts, creative writing, and education and career development.
Evans has created a "hybrid store" in a small strip mall on the outskirts of Boulder. "This used to be the outskirts of town," Evans qualified. "Now it's really part of the city with good public transportation, easy access by bike or on foot, and plenty of parking. We're next door to an espresso bar/music venue; that was part of the reason I chose this space. I also wanted the store to serve the neighborhood."
The "first draft" of Troubadour, as Evans called it, opened in downtown Boulder in 1998. "It catered to the performing arts community." But, she added, "The location was a pain -- no parking and the rents were unaffordable." After about two years, the store closed.
Evans considered that venture a great learning experience and was eager to begin again. People are very happy to welcome us back," she said, "particularly those in the performing arts. We can provide actors' editions of scripts and other specialty items. We offer information and networking opportunities for people who embark on a difficult path: serious pursuit of a life in creative writing, the performing arts, or teaching."
And, she noted, "We are able to get things, like copies of scripts, much faster than we could five or six years ago. Since the first store closed, the Internet has come of age and everything has become easier and quicker. Many things are very improved and available quickly without additional charges."
The Book Sense program is one of those improvements, Evans said. "The program has matured and offers a lot. We have a BookSense.com website, and the database is extremely useful. People often come in knowing what they want, possibly after consulting the database themselves. I just sent out our most recent newsletter using Constant Contact -- it was the first thing I've sent and it was great, what an amazing tool."
Troubadour has become the designated bookstore for the extensive required reading lists for the local high school's advanced classes. "The school sends students here for all their books," Evans told BTW. "We've held art exhibits and are also partnering with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. It's in these niches that we can offer service that the big box stores don't want to bother with. This brings people in."
Describing herself as "kind of fringie," Evans added, "I don't really belong to any groups except for Book Sense -- the national branding concept is very appealing and useful. That national effort is what is going to make a difference." --Nomi Schwartz