John K. King Books

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John K. King Used & Rare Books
FounderJohn K. King
Headquarters901 West Lafayette,
Detroit, Michigan
Number of locations
Area served
Detroit metropolitan area
Key people
John K. King

John K. King Used & Rare Books is an independent bookseller in Michigan.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

The store has an estimated 1 million books in stock, with a large collection of rare and used titles.[9] In a 2011 article from the online magazine Salon, the store was described as "one of the largest and strangest collections in North America".[6]

The store has four above-ground floors open to customers. An adjacent building has a collection of rarer and notable items available for viewing by appointment only. The rare book holdings are the only cataloged part of the inventory and can be viewed and ordered by visiting


The store was established in Dearborn, Michigan by John K. King in 1965.[10] In 1971 it was moved to the Michigan Theatre in downtown Detroit.[10] In 1983 King purchased the abandoned Advance Glove factory, which has since housed the store's collections.[6][11] Later[when?], two smaller stores were opened: John K. King Books North in Detroit's Ferndale suburb and The Big Book Store in the Cass Corridor neighborhood, adjacent to Wayne State University, specializing in rare comics and paperbacks.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ James, Sheryl (April 7, 2002). "Hunting rare books a rarely profitable pursuit". Knight Ridder Newspapers. Retrieved May 10, 2012. ... John K. King Books in Detroit, one of the nation's biggest and best-known used, rare and out-of-print book dealers.
  2. ^ Clemens, Paul (June 26, 2005). "A City of Hard Knocks and Hardwood". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2012. For every hour I've spent at King's, I've heard the same three-word phrase repeated to customers a dozen times: We're not computerized.
  3. ^ Narkiewicz, Beverly S. (1990). "Traveling by the Book: The Dusty Joys of Secondhand Shops". The Washington Post. Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive. Archived from the original on 2014-10-07. ... you'll find John K. King Used and Rare Books, a palace of pleasure if you love old books(subscription required)
  4. ^ "The Real Deals - Readers' Choice - Best of Detroit". Detroit Metro Times. April 27, 2011. Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit
  5. ^ "King's used bookstore survives Internet push". The Detroit News. October 12, 2006. King's massive retail inventory is not online -- it wouldn't be cost-effective, he says -- but its rare books are at[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Cytron, Megan (May 15, 2011). "The world's most inspiring bookstores". Salon. Retrieved May 10, 2012. Converted from an abandoned 1940s glove factory, John King is a five-story wooden maze stuffed stairwells-to-ceilings with used and rare books — one of the largest and strangest collections in North America.
  7. ^ Herron, Kevin (April 3, 2000). "Unique shops give Detroit its own flavor.(Brief Article)". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved May 10, 2012. A Detroit institution[dead link](subscription required)
  8. ^ "10 Great Places to Crawl Between the Covers". USA Today. January 21, 2002. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  9. ^ Hyde, Justin (July 19, 1999). "Bookseller Collects Used Volumes". Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2012. King's world includes as many as 1 million books housed in a converted glove factory, filling four stories in an industrial area near downtown.(subscription required)
  10. ^ a b Zynel, rachel (March 25, 2012). "Sentimental scent of used books embraces you at John King". Oakland University News Bureau. Retrieved May 10, 2012. King opened his first store in Dearborn in 1965, and then moved to the Michigan Theater in 1971.
  11. ^ Loren D. Estleman; Monte Nagler (30 August 2007). Amos Walker's Detroit. Wayne State University Press. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-8143-3357-0. Retrieved 10 May 2012. That was when John King bought it, tore out most of the partitions, reinforced the interior walls, and filled it top to bottom with books on every subject ...

Coordinates: 42°19′38.51″N 83°3′24.21″W / 42.3273639°N 83.0567250°W / 42.3273639; -83.0567250