Capitol Hill Books is closed today, November 19: A truck carrying Lime scooters crashed into the glass storefront of 300 East Colfax Avenue at 8:40 p.m. on November 17, crashing into a glass shelf containing the most expensive rare books in the store.
“Signed books by Richard Bachman, small signed prints from the first edition – they’re ruined,” said William Kortz, an employee who was first on the scene. At least 100 books and rare prints were damaged in the crash.
The rest of the store was saved by a heavy, old-fashioned radiator that prevented the truck from getting any further inside. However, steam from the burst radiator hit the rare books and prints on the shelves.
“It wasn’t so much the accident as the steam from the radiator hose that broke that caused the books to break,” said owner Holly Brooks, who is in good spirits despite the shocking incident. “We can get some of the books back; we just haven’t started on that part yet. We need to get back in shape before welcoming people to the rest of the store. ”
She continues, “That’s what we’re going to do today – sort through and find out what’s lost and basically store what we can until we have access to that area again.”
Brooks discovered the crash after employees at the nearby Newhouse Hotel texted Kortz, who lives nearby. He immediately ran. “It was a real shock when I arrived. It was like finding your kid under a truck. That’s how I feel about this place; it’s like a person. It hurts a lot,” says- he.
It was also quite a gift for Brooks, who learned the news in early November 18, his 71st birthday. “This is the one I will never forget!” she says.
The damaged books and prints are currently neatly stacked in a corner of the store, and Brooks and his team are now looking for shelves to store materials they can salvage.
As for the storefront, Brooks sees an opportunity in chaos. She contacted the owner about installing a new wall there. “No more glass,” she laughs. “We’re thinking of making it a wall instead of windows so that we can have a mural on it. We have so much space for the windows, so we won’t lose much by losing those three windows.”
No one at the bookstore knows how the truck crashed into the store, and the police “won’t tell us,” Brooks said.
The store has gone through rough times during the pandemic, and business has never been easy, says Brooks, who bought the place fifteen years ago – it was founded four decades ago – and runs it as a labor of love. “It must be,” Brooks notes. “Do you think anyone makes money from used bookstores? ”
“She doesn’t even get an income,” Kortz adds. “She works here and she owns it and puts her heart and soul in it and gets nothing out of it.”
Despite this latest trial, Brooks continues. “I was absolutely determined,” she says. “COVID, pandemic, truck – whatever it is, this store is going to hold up. ”
The bookstore has long been a favorite of Denver book lovers. At the start of the pandemic, when Westword reported that it was about to close, readers flooded the store with online orders that allowed the store to pay rent.
Capitol Hill Books has posted updates to its Facebook page, where it now says it hopes to be open during regular hours – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21.