More History of the Building

Recently the local Detroit history blog, Corktown History, did a piece on the building that is now our bookstore, Indeed Paul Szewczyk, the local historian that authored the article, even went into the history of the land on which the building was eventually erected upon. All the way back the original ribbon farm that the land was part of in the early settlement of Detroit through the construction of the factory at what would have been 4th Street and Lafayette, to when it was moved to make way for the Lodge Expressway (M-10) that the bookstore now sits beside. He was able to find out the names of the companies that operated in the building, first as a garment factory, soon replaced with a hat making operation and finally an industrial glove manufacturer that it remained as until Advance Glove filed bankruptcy in 1981. There are many interesting photographs to go along with the information presented and details on the whole piece of land around the bookstore, including how there was once a sanatorium in the neighborhood. Thank you to Paul Szewczyk for this research and to check out this and other work he's done on local Detroit history on his website.

August 2014 New Arrivals part 2

We've gotten in even more books, as the influx of incoming titles is never ending here. Therefore I've found out that once a month updating on the new arrivals isn't gonna cover it. Sop here is what has been going up for the last couple of weeks at John K. King Used and Rare Books main store.

  • Math and Chemistry Textbooks (older but good for reference)
  • Number Theory and Mathematical Logic
  • Mediums and Parapsychology
  • English as a Second Language
  • U.S.  Regional and State Histories
  • Juvenile Fiction (including some pop-up books)
  • Disabilities
  • Pharmacology
  • Paperback Fiction and Mysteries
  • Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines
  • HOW Graphic Design Magazines
  • Management
  • Political Science (this area has been recently revamped and it looks spiffy)
  • Travel Literature and Guides
  • Guitar Tablature
  • More African American History
  • More Circus (if you can believe it or not)

In addition our Big Book Store location has gotten in what I am told are high quality automotive and motorcycle magazines. Be sure to stop by there and ask Bill about them if you're a gearhead any day Wednesday thru Saturday, 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

August 2014 New Arrivials

I know I put it out on twitter and instagram what we've been shelving up in the bookstore, but to make it easier if you have various interests in your book collecting I've put together a list of the things we've gotten in with a few helpful links in case you're not sure what I'm talking about. These are just the topics I can recall of the top of my head from the last month.

  • Magic (slight of hand and illusionist)
  • Black History and African American Biographies
  • Circus and Carnivals, including photo books on carousel art
  • P.T. Barnum Biographies
  • Continental Congressional Records of the American Revolution
  • History of the American Old West
  • Biographies of Wild West outlaws and lawmen (especially Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickok)
  • Hardcover Mysteries from the 40s and 50s, writers like Sax Rohmer (Fu Manchu), Edgar Wallace, Christopher Morley, Raphael Sabatini (Captain Blood)
  • True Crime stories, including bank robbers like John Dillinger
  • Ghosts and Hauntings
  • Middle Eastern and Ottoman Empire history
  • French History
  • Military Uniforms
  • Art Technique and Monographs
  • Jazz and Blues history
  • World War I, especially aviation warfare
  • Chess named John King Books as one of the coolest bookstores in the world

On CNN website they named out bookstore, along with a selection from around the world, as one of the coolest bookstores on earth. Very flatter and we're the only one in the Midwest to get such recognition. Read about our store and the others at:

A MetroTimes Interview with John King

Back in February the MetroTimes published an article on the owner and namesake of our illustrious establishment, Mr. John King himself. Learn about how he got into the trade of bookselling, how he goes about acquiring more books and how we've been coping since the advent of online book dealing.

Replenshing our stock

Mr. King has furiously been pushing books onto the floors for the staff to shelve, again. This is a routine occurrence for those of us that work at the bookstore, I thought I might give some insight to those that haven't worked retail lately, or ever, into the unique sphere that is used books. Of course Mr. King and the store managers are in charge of acquiring more books to fill our shelves and they've been doing so for years by a variety of methods. How do we get them all on our shelves in an orderly way so they can be shopped despite our archaic uncomputerized ways?

The quantity and variety can seem daunting and overwhelming to those that haven't ever visited the store or worked in a large retail space, as the books come in by the hundreds. At our peak efficiency it works like an assembly line with Mr. King finding the books he wants priced that day. He brings the books to a store manager who quickly notates price and piles them up, then a floor manager carries them a short way off and sorts them according to which of each of the four floors that subject is found and then shleps them to the freight elevator to be further dispersed to the shelves. Once on the floors the titles are further separated by the topic they concern by the store staff and placed on the shelves.

If only it was that simple though. As you might imagine with the pace of new stock and the nature of selling used items the content of the stock can vary greatly over time and cause some sections to be sparser while others being to burst at the seams. This is where the floor manager must get creative in finding ways to move the existing stock around on shelves and between aisles to to make a navigable and appealing display of books. Additionally, as we are rather old fashioned in our methods, when visiting you'll notice our signs are largely handmade by the staff and adhered to the shelves with thumbtacks or tape that must be moved or remade as well. In general, there is a constant re-orientation of the store for regular customers and the staff alike.

If I may wax poetic for a moment, I find much of the beauty of the store in how it shifts and alters as Mr. King finds more books to fill it with and how it must be contained within the fixed confines of the old glove factory brick walls. Like a cell that can't expand beyond its membrane yet is always needing to change and react to circumstance, our very survival depends on it.

-Tristen, 2nd Floor Manager/Social Media Manager

A small load of books in the middle of being sorted by floor.

A small load of books in the middle of being sorted by floor.

Channel 4 Coverage of the Bookstore

Channel 4 caught wind of our being rated as the 2nd best bookstore in the world and first in the United States by business insider and did a nice piece showing some of the rarer items in our stocks.

An artistic depiction of one of Mr. King's statues of the bard

An artistic depiction of one of Mr. King's statues of the bard

Business Insider Ranked Us as 2nd in the World

We are very excited to announce that Business Insider trekked the globe looking at bookstore and we got placed a the second best. Not bad at all for a home-grown Detroit operation. Check out the list, it is an interesting company we hold and nice to know we've more than held our own.

King King Books tops a series best of lists

Hour Detroit Magazine Readers

Choose John King Books

As Best Used Bookstore

Once Again!

Hour Detroit Best of Detroit 2014

John King Books

is #1 on another list of top bookstores


Detroit A-List Best Bookstores 2014 

Another mention of John King Books in the media:


Things People from Detroit Love -- Movoto

Once again…


The Detroit Metro Times recognizes John K. King Books as

The Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit!

Detroit Metro Times Best of Detroit 2014