Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with The Bookworm of Edwards
Independent bookstores are unique businesses in that they function as houses of knowledge, resource centers, gift shops, community gathering places and sometimes even coffee shops; The Bookworm is all of these things and more. It’s the center for gathering in Edwards, as the store hosts more than 50 events annually, plus hundreds of informal meetings and chats among friends and colleagues. The Bookworm of Edwards prides itself on the passion and knowledge of its staff, and strives to become indispensable to the locals and visitors of Eagle County.
On April 29, The Bookworm will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day, an annual, nationwide, and day-long celebration of independent bookstores. Modeled after Record Store Day, Independent Bookstore Day started in California in 2014 as a way to celebrate and highlight the importance of indie bookstores in the literary world. In support of this effort, many publishers produce special edition books and book-themed gifts that you can’t find online or at big box stores, only at an indie bookstore. The Bookworm will have a selection of these indie-exclusive gifts available on Independent Bookstore Day.
Along with the 10th anniversary of Independent Bookstore Day, The Bookworm is also celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The Bookworm has a great story of how it became the local gem it is today, and each owner’s chapter shows their own distinctive touch.
The Bookworm started in 1996 in the back of a van belonging to former Eagle County Schools teacher Kathy Westover. Then in November of 1997, Neda Jansen joined Westover and they opened a physical, brick-and-mortar location in Edwards Village Center. They opened with just 700 square feet; long-time Bookworm fans surely remember those tight shelves.
By late 2006, co-owners Jansen and Nicole Magistro, a part-time bookseller turned bookstore co-owner, decided that The Bookworm needed more room to grow. So Kristi Allio bought Jansen’s share of the business and she and Magistro moved The Bookworm to its current Riverwalk location in 2007, more than doubling their square footage. In 2010, they added another 800 square feet, expanding cafe seating and the children’s selection.
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From 2013 to 2020, Magistro was the sole owner of The Bookworm, oversaw two Bookworm remodels, and made The Bookworm a staple to Eagle County. In August 2020 she sold The Bookworm to Matt Lee, a recent Eagle County transplant and lifelong book lover.
Lee is almost three years into his tenure as The Bookworm’s owner, and is grateful for the people who have worked at The Bookworm over the years, and for the people he has retained on the team. “I am lucky to have learned a lot from Nicole during the transition in 2020, and I still am learning new aspects of the business from our incredible team, who collectively have decades of experience,” Lee said. “I try my best to listen and be responsive to the needs of our staff and customers, and am fortunate to be in this position and to further the mission of this truly unique independent bookstore.”
Under Lee’s guidance, The Bookworm has hosted over one hundred events, broken yearly sales records, and most recently expanded the store yet again. In March 2023, The Bookworm added almost 1000 square feet, making the store’s total footprint almost 4,000 square feet, which is over five times the size of their first physical store.
Lee knows that it’s not just his devoted employees that have enabled the growth of The Bookworm. “Honestly, our customers are what make all of this possible,” Lee said. “The only reason we’ve been able to continue to grow our physical store is because people come to us when they need their next book, gift, or cup of coffee. I’m heartened to see the overwhelming support of not only local businesses, but also of literacy and printed books.”