King's Books - A Bibliophile's Paradise

If you're a bibliophile, you've probably dreamed of owning - or at least walking into - a library like the one from the Beast's castle:
There's something intoxicating about the thought of so many adventures, waiting for discovery behind their polychromatic spines.  Unfortunately, chances are that, like me, there's not a snowball's chance in Hades that you'll ever actually own that many books.

The next best option?  Swing over to John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit.  This book lover's paradise is curled in four floors of a repurposed glove factory.  It's cramped, dusty, not air conditioned, eccentric, distinctly old-fashioned, and relies on red-aproned attendants to help you find your favorite books among newspaper clippings and bric-à-brac.  In other words, it's all about the books!  And books there are in abundance, on seven-foot shelves, stacked in corners, piled along the walls, and displayed in glass cases.  Navigation is tricky - I get the impression that the collection is constantly growing and morphing, perhaps even mildly sentient.  This picture barely provides an adequate estimate of the scale of the place:
Admittedly, I'm the kind of person who will spend the last few dollars of a paycheck on books.  Over years of literary purchases, my book-shopping buddy and I have developed a rhythm; we browse, chat, collect, and then try to convince ourselves that we can't possibly buy every volume we picked up.  Despite our hard-earned experience, King's is the only bookstore that has ever beaten us!

Fun fact - as a very rough estimate, if I did nothing but read 24/7 for 55 years, I might make it through all the books on the main stacks of one floor.

We quickly realized that strategy would be vital.  But even with a short list of authors and a picnic lunch break, it was five hours before we finally dragged ourselves out of the place.  My purse was lighter and my bookshelves more crammed when we returned - until I make it back to this book Mecca, I'll happily revel in the possession of three out-of-print Wilkie Collins novels, a Tom Holt omnibus, and a tiny hard-backed copy of Jane Eyre.  At this rate, I'm well on my way to owning the Beast's library, if I can just get the shelf space.


  1. Sounds like a dream come true. I would love to own the Beast's library!


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