March 27, 2018

Bolduc writes bookstore’s 45-year success story

David Bolduc, Boulder Book Store • 2018 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame

David BolducTimes are hard enough for brick-and-mortar chain bookstores in the era of the internet, and independents have an even rougher time.

“Our biggest challenge now starts with an A,” said David Bolduc, president and owner of Boulder Book Store. “Everyone’s running scared because Amazon wants the whole pie, which isn’t good for democracy.”

And yet Boulder Book Store, a fixture on the Pearl Street Mall, survives and thrives, with about 50 knowledgeable employees and more than 100,000 titles in 20,000 square feet of space on three floors.

“It goes up and goes over here and down there,” Bolduc mused. “A lot of people from rural places have never seen a store this big. Even their libraries aren’t that big.”

The store attracts visitors from around Colorado and tourists from across the country and the world. It also holds more than 200 events both in the store and off site, attracting influential authors such as Deepak Chopra, Neil Gaiman, Gloria Steinem and Jon Krakauer.

“We have survived so far by our connections to the community,” Bolduc said. “This community really thinks independent bookstores are very important. People constantly come in and tell us that. The vanilla flavors for everything are kind of wearing thin on people. People run ideas by us, and we say, ‘Well, we’ll try it.’

“Some companies want people to rely on the internet to fulfill all their needs — and it certainly can’t. It’s not good for communities.

“We’ve been very involved with ‘city things’ over the years, a lot of boards,” he said, mentioning his membership on Downtown Boulder’s board. “I wanted to do it. It was interesting, and it was also my responsibility if I was downtown.”

As a founding member of the Boulder Independent Business Alliance, he participated in the development of the Pearl Street Mall. He co-founded the Boulder Valley Farmers Market and also serves on the board of Naropa University. The store also serves as Naropa’s bookstore, with a small section downstairs that features the texts the school’s teachers want students to use in their classes.

Bolduc had opened a co-op bookstore on East 17th Avenue in Denver in 1968, then opened Boulder Book Store in 1973 about a half block to the east of its current location. It moved to its current, larger spot in the late 1980s. For awhile, Naropa used the upstairs as a performing-arts space.

Bolduc remembers the public library in Michigan he used to roam as a boy. “It had huge, beautiful murals,” he said. “I loved the place, going into the stacks, doing homework in the basement. There was something about the institution — I liked the whole history about it.”

Bolduc has tried to capture that feeling at Boulder Book Store.

View 2018 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame publication.

David BolducTimes are hard enough for brick-and-mortar chain bookstores in the era of the internet, and independents have an even rougher time.

“Our biggest challenge now starts with an A,” said David Bolduc, president and owner of Boulder Book Store. “Everyone’s running scared because Amazon wants the whole pie, which isn’t good for democracy.”

And yet Boulder Book Store, a fixture on the Pearl Street Mall, survives and thrives, with about 50 knowledgeable employees and more than 100,000 titles in 20,000 square feet of space…

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