A Match Made in Book Heaven
Bobbi Smith and Daiva Chesonis are the perfect team to run Between the Covers. With Bobbi and Daiva’s past careers as a baker and freelance graphic artist, respectively, both owners bring a creative mindset to the book-selling industry.
Bobbi was a professional baker for 22 years in bakeries and restaurants across Durango and Telluride. She owned Bobbi’s Treats for the later nine years of her baking career. “Eventually it was time for a break to catch up on normal sleep. The bookstore needed a bookseller and I thought it would be a nice challenge,” Bobbi revealed.
But Bobbi and Daiva never knew that their initial involvement at Between the Covers would lead them to becoming the new owners in 2010. “The previous owners of BTC (Stuart and Joanna Brown) taught me about the importance of independent bookstores and I was invited to attend a couple of trade shows as a bookseller. Daiva and I worked at the store together, she the book buyer and I eventually became manager. We had no idea a few years later we would own BTC! The Browns left behind an important town institution and we try our best to continually improve and curate our little local independent bookstore. Running the store takes a lot of work and Daiva and I try to do as much as we can ourselves,” Bobbi continued.
While their past experiences may seem like complete opposites; both have either struggled over the design of a cake or book. “I was a freelance graphic artist for over 20 years with a few stints as design agency owner and magazine art director. I've designed covers, even whole books. I know what goes into that kind of labor of love and can appreciate what it takes to put oneself out there to be judged. To be a conduit for that is an honor,” Daiva concluded.
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Between the Covers
Breathing in Books and the Outdoors in Telluride, CO
Among the mountainous expanse of Telluride, Colorado lies a well-loved bookstore, Between the Covers (BTC). With shelves packed with books and the smell of coffee from the High Alpine Coffee Bar situated in the back of BTC, locals and tourists could not find a better place to sit down with a good book.
Bobbi Smith and Daiva Chesonis became co-owners of the store, which first opened in 1974, in 2010. The city of Telluride continues to provide a great community for Bobbi and Daiva to build upon and make changes to the bookstore.
“Telluride is a place filled with ideas and experiences from people who travel all over the world. Tourists and locals tend to be well read and interested in all sorts of information. We have a lively main street, a variety of great shops, festivals galore and a thriving nightlife. Telluride supports independent businesses as a core value in our historic setting,” said Bobbi.
A thriving history of mining in the late 1800s resulted in Telluride’s recognition as a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. When the price of silver drastically decreased after World War I, the population reached new lows as miners relocated. It wasn’t until 1973 when the Telluride Ski Resort opened that new live was brought into the city.
Bobbi, Daiva, and their employees’ love for outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding and hiking makes for a work environment where everyone has first-hand advice from their own experiences around Telluride. The advice from the BTC family goes beyond what customers could find in a book.
“The employees are up-to-date experts on what mountain passes are open, what new trailheads or lifts have gone in, what to avoid due to maintenance or natural barriers like rockfall, what wildflowers are starting to pop and at what elevation. Sometimes, an employee will get a little too far out or miss an important turn and it makes them late for their shift, mud still on their shorts or hair dripping wet from a two-second shower, but the story's always good,” Daiva stated.
And Between the Covers is stocked with books about everything outdoors. “In so many books, nature is one of the characters, and sometimes that's what people are looking for, to relate to the flora and fauna or the geologic history of a place to show them their own place in the world. That mind and body principle is an important connection, especially in the West where there's so much worth fighting for,” Daiva continued.
Telluride helps its residents to maintain a mind and body connection due to their involvement with the Mountainfilm, Mushroom, and Film Festival. Between the Covers can always be found at these festivals showcasing their must-reads. “We like to have titles relevant to the festival and provide the time and space for author signings. Our windows and displays coincide with festival themes and we are an unofficial information and gathering spot for participants. We hold off-site and in store author events for all three Festivals,” Bobbi explained.
One of their biggest events centers around the Mountainfilm Festival which first started in 1979. This festival combines films with the written word to create an environment for intriguing discussions between artists, authors, and residents.
“With such a rich history of bringing amazing explorers, scientists, and activists to their annual film festival as speakers, Mountainfilm ends up with a long list of authors,” Daiva told me. “Instead of us attempting to hold signings with each one throughout the Memorial Day Weekend, the festival brings them all together in one room for two hours and all the theaters are dark as the focus shifts from the visual to the written.”
Many of Between the Covers’ collaborations at festivals have been traditions that each of the two previous owners have passed down. Bobbi and Daiva make every event their own, adding to the long-standing traditions.
“We've tweaked it all by going off-site a lot more since today's technology makes it so easy,” Daiva said. “For instance, for three years now we have set up a pop-up store in the lobby of Mushroom Festival's main venue. It's a blast. We get so many comments about how many titles we carry about mushrooms and it just goes to show the reciprocal support we all have to show for the other in order to survive as both non-profits and small businesses.”
Whether at a festival or not, Bobbi and Daiva are always up for working with various places in their community such as the Wilkinson Public Library, where they hold events in the programming room, kid’s area, and outdoor patio. With a growing presence at community events, Between the Covers doubles as a bookstore and “unofficial information fun center,” as Bobbi describes it.
For those planning for a little adventure in their life sometime soon, Bobbi knows of the essential books for a beginner to a hardcore explorer.
“Make sure to have the Roadside Geology of Colorado, by Halka Chronic and Felicie Williams in the car, it's a great way to read up about Colorado geology on your way to any adventure in the state. The Colorado Mountain Companion, by M. John Fayhee is sure to please any outdoor enthusiast with all sorts of trivia and Colorado information. For the serious explorer, I suggest the Non-Technical Canyon Guide to the Colorado Plateau, by Mike Kelsey. This guidebook has many hidden gems to find on the gorgeous and huge Colorado Plateau. For Telluride specific hikes, the Telluride Hiking Guide, by Susan Kees.”
Between the Covers is a place where the love of books and the outdoors meets thanks to an adventurous staff and inventory of books, cards, maps, and journals. Their selection of products is fit for an outdoor enthusiast; readers can pick up a book about landmarks in Colorado, buy a map, and embark on an adventure where they write every detail of the trip in a card or journal. BTC serves as a bookstore that can inspire its customers to travel somewhere they have never gone before whether through the pages of a book or a trip up a mountain. We look forward to seeing where the future journey takes Between the Covers.
For more information about the store, check out their website: http://www.between-the-covers.com/
In addition to Bobbi’s suggestions, look to what is on Daiva’s must-read list for outdoor enthusiasts:
The Tiger, by John Vaillant, Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner and Jackson Benson, Refuge, by Terry Tempest Williams, One River, by Wade Davis, The Wave, by Susan Casey, Snow Sense, by Jill Fredston, Douglas Fesler, Karl Birkeland and Doug Chabot, Mycelium Running, by Paul Stamets, The Man Who Quit Money, by Mark Sundeen, Fire Season, by Philip Connors, The Villain, by Jim Perrin
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Nicolette Amstutz is a writer for Independent Publisher. She is currently studying English and Communications at the University of Michigan. Please contact her with any comments, questions, or criticisms at namstutz (at) umich.edu