John K. King Used and Rare Books
901 West Lafayette Blvd. Detroit, Michigan
You can’t miss it. Visible from the freeway, it’s got BOOKS emblazoned in capital letters across the top of its four-story brick building. It’s got books illustrated and painted on its front entrance and along its staircases, books jam-packed floor-to-ceiling, books crammed wall-to-wall, books on all subjects, in all conditions, used and rare, loved and forgotten, categorized and organized in their own peculiar disarray.
No baristas and pastries here. No comfy couches, wireless hotspots and cozy nooks. In keeping with it’s gritty downtown Detroit setting, John K. King Used and Rare Books is a warehouse with a crazy energy unlike any book store you can imagine. Think of it as a literary museum, a repository of history, a curiosity shop gone wild. Exuberant. Exhaustive. Idiosyncratic. A paradise for book hounds and hoarders.
In another life it was a glove factory. Today John King’s stands as a Detroit icon, quite possibly the nation’s largest used and antiquarian bookstore, claiming more than a million volumes. But who’s counting? Amidst the stacks there are entire collections, thousands of books still in boxes. No telling what's in store.
Directly behind the main building stands the inner sanctum (once the Otis Elevator Building) now John King’s Rare Book Room, a fascinating oak paneled hodgepodge and labyrinth of rare books and first editions, artwork and posters, antiques and collectibles, available for purchase or browsing by special appointment. Books in the Rare Book Room (an estimated 20 to 30,000) are also available online at the store’s website.
A resource for historic books, a favorite location for photo shoots, film production and commercials, John King Books has been well documented in articles, blogs and reviews. For links, go to the website . . . and happy book-hunting.
John K. King
Toni (and Sophie)
For a John King book tour in photos, go to MaidenVoyagePhotography
Photos: VHenoch and MHenoch
Happy browsing and reading... and thanks for stopping by.