Navigating our Store

A view of the 2nd Floor interior.

A view of the 2nd Floor interior.

John K. King Used & Rare Books is a bookstore out of its time. The main store stock, as well as that of our branches in Ferndale and WSU, are completely uncomputerized collections that are organized by a team of energetic and helpful staff members into a multitude of topics and sub-topics. Each floor has a manager that is responsible for knowledge and maintenance of the categories held there. This means we can't do computer searches and tell you if we have a title. However, we find this does create a unique book shopping experience that encourages getting lost in the aisles. Don't worry, we'll gently push you out at closing time.

The store itself is comprised of four navigable floors with various topics on each. We have directories and maps that we pass out freely upon entry that specify the floor and aisle of many of our topics. In addition the books are mostly arranged alphabetically by the author within topics, with a few exceptions. Finally, our knowledgable staff are identifiable by our branded aprons and can be depended on to help you locate whatever it is you're searching for.

You can see a preview of our wall-to-wall book experience by checking out the Preview of our store.

History of the Bookstore

The facade of 901 W. Lafayette. Our flagship store.

The facade of 901 W. Lafayette. Our flagship store.

John K. King began his book trading back in 1965 as a teenager and has continually advanced in the trade ever since. He has owned stores before the current location, including a spot in the Michigan Theatre Building, that now serves as an ornate parking structure in downtown Detroit. The current location was the former Advance Glove Factory, hence the giant glove painted on the exterior of the building. The factory ceased operations in the 1970s and sat vacant until Mr. King purchased it and finally moved over his operation in 1983. Then he went on to purchased the former Otis Elevator Company building on the same block to expand the parking lot and provide office space for the bookstore. Since then Mr. King has stubbornly been dragged into the digital age ever so subtly, with computerizing the rare book holdings for purchase online and allowing the current social media and website presence you can now take advantage of.

You can read a more detailed account of John King's career and the buildings the store occupies on our about us page.


Naturally, what is a rare and valuable book varies from person to person, but the ones we've deemed to be of a highly collectable sort are kept apart from the main browsable collection. If you can imagine, John King was selling these books all over the country via a printed catalog before he was coaxed into making an admittedly musty-looking website catalog. The rare book holdings are the only titles that are fully cataloged and searchable online. At the detailed description of all rare items can be read and inquires for purchasing them can be addressed to Additionally, if you're planning to visit the main store in person we encourage you to visit the listings at rarebooklink to see what we have in stock. Should you be interested in purchasing anything we can have it brought to the store for you to examine.

If you're searching for an item that could be in our main store stock you can always contact us via email, a written letter or postcard, a process you can find out more about on our Contact page.