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Updates -Main Store



As we start stepping into 2024, we herewith report some bookstore news.  Sent out in random order.

Our esteemed manager Deb is realigning her hours, and will be working a couple days fewer per week.  Chris has been promoted to co-manager, sharing duties.  Our store hours will be maintained Mon 11am-4pm, Tuesday – Saturday 9:30am to 5:30pm.

We would like to thank our hardworking employees who helped increase our 2023 sales over 2022.  One byproduct of the success was a $1.00 per hour raise for everyone in our bookstores.

Our Art Annex has been vastly improved with additional art objects de vertu, and our large selection of art books.  Our map department has also been reorganized and is in much better order.  For services in the Art Annex, please make an appointment since the area is not always available.

We had numerous filming events in the main store this year, a successful Detroit Book Club tour, a fun Sunday at the Detroit Festival of the Books at Eastern market last July, and an appearance on PBS’s Under the Radar Michigan in December.

Sadly, we report the passing of Cleveland Bookseller John Zubal on May 1, 2023.  We have known him since the late 1960s, and he was one of the last of the great booksellers.  Also, Charlie Dickens, Toni’s loyal canine companion, passed away in late fall.

We were fortunate to acquire a very large collection of 17th and 18th century tomes as well as a fine contemporary literature collection.  Over the next few months, the scarcer volumes will be catalogued and on our website.

The fate of our Ferndale store might be shaky.  MDOT took away the parking spots in front of our store and made a gigantic bus stop.  Our customers now will have to be tenacious to shop, and we are hoping you continue to find your way to our Oakland County bookstore.

I want to apologize to a customer who parked his Mercedes in our alley blocking our Friday garbage pickup.  I was unprofessional and verbally nasty to him and it was uncalled for.  My behavior bothered me for weeks.  I should have handled it differently.  If you are reading this, I am sorry.

Recently a few people have been concerned with the continuance of John King Books and have asked what the future holds.  Based on current thought (which can change) we plan on being here for the foreseeable future.  Being in the book business since 1965, it is difficult to see an end.  This has been for the most part an interesting and at most times enjoyable and interesting vocation. 

The book burners, I mean the book banners are at it again.  Don’t they realize when they ban a book like “1984”, “The Color Purple”, “Brave New World”, certain Dr. Seuss titles and others, they are encouraging their victims to desire these books even more?  If they minded their own business and left the librarians to do their jobs, it would make life a lot easier for everyone.  Don’t they remember when their parents told them to not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes?  They were the ones standing behind the garage.

Lastly, a big “Thank You” to all of our customers, old and new who constantly renew our faith in the written word and specifically used and rare books.  We appreciate your patronage, faithfulness to our store, and friendship.   




!!  Attention Book Lovers  !!

John King Used & Rare Books

downtown store hours:

Mondays: 11am to 4pm,

Tuesdays through Saturdays from:

9:30am to 5:30pm

If you would like to sell/trade/donate books,

please call 313-961-0622 first to make an appointment.  


Our phone number is:


We are available by email,

but please expect a delay.


 See you soon! 💛📚

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John king book store detroit

Updates -North Store


Masks are optional; if you have symptoms please delay your visit and contact us with your request.

Our North Store hours
Monday, closed

Tuesday, 12noon to 6pm
Wed-Fri, 11am - 7pm
Saturday, 12pm - 6pm
Sun, noon - 5pm

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john king book store ferndale metro detroit

Original Kate Greenaway signed watercolor "Patty", framed with a note attached to the back from Greenaway to her publisher E. Routledge sending this picture, purchased by Routledge at the Dudley Gallery, May 1878.  With a copy of the book LITTLE WIDE AWAKE which contains two color reproductions of the watercolor (one on the cover, one as the frontispiece)


Featured Items

Original Kate Greenaway Watercolor & Book


John K King Detroit Skyline

John K. King started in the book business when he was just a teenager in 1965. Since then, he has continually advanced in the field; starting out selling books out of the trunk of his 1954 Packard to present day, offering over a million titles that can only be housed within four expansive floors of seemingly endless shelves.  Previous to the current location of the store at 901 West Lafayette, Mr. King occupied a storefront in the Michigan Theatre Building, which now serves as an ornate parking structure in Downtown Detroit. The West Lafayette location was formerly the Advance Glove Factory, which operated from the 1940s to the 1970s. After the factory was shut down, it sat vacant until Mr. King purchased it in 1983. The original Advance Glove floor mat can still be found at the entrance to the store, as well as the giant red glove that still remains painted on the side of the building.  A few years later, John King purchased the former Otis Elevator building next door to the store. Today, that building contains our offices, Art Annex, and the Rare Book Room, which houses some of the more fragile or scarce items in his collection. Recently, Mr. King has stubbornly agreed to bring at least part of the store experience into the digital age, cataloging the Rare Book collection on for easy online browsing, as well as introducing a social media presence. You can read a more detailed account of John King’s story on our About Us page.

Navigate map directory 4 four floors biggest bookstore largest

John K. King Used & Rare Books is a bookstore reminiscent of times past,  once described by someone as a Wes Anderson movie. The stock in our main store, as well as that of our smaller Ferndale branch, is not cataloged by computer. Although this means we are unable to do a computerized search to see if we have a specific title in stock, merchandise is organized and located by our team of knowledgeable, red apron-clad store employees. Additionally, navigating the sometimes overwhelming multitude of titles is aided by store maps available at the front counter upon entry, as well as centrally located telephones that can be used to reach the front counter for inquiries. Each floor has a designated manager responsible for keeping the books organized by category and subcategory, title and author. To avoid getting confused while browsing, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the books in each category generally flow toward the windows. For customers with mobility issues, just ask a staff member to take you by elevator to the floor of your choice. You can get a feel of our wall-to- wall book experience by checking out our Interactive Store Map. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, please ask! We have thousands of “duplicates” in storage, and even a few thousand extra Art books, too! All this creates a unique browsing experience that encourages getting “lost in the aisles” of four floors packed full of literature and other ephemera. Don’t worry, we’ll gently push you out at closing time!

rare books shakespear bust collection

In addition to the million or so titles in stock in the store, the books and ephemera we’ve deemed to be rare, scarce, or fragile are located next door in our Rare Book Room. Although this collection is not accessible to the general public, shoppers can search for items regarding a multitude of subjects by visiting Detailed descriptions, as well as the prices of all Rare Book Room items, can be located on this website. Believe it or not, in the years before our expansive rare book collection was made available online, it was organized via printed catalogs.  If something of interest is found on our website please give us a call, stop in and speak with an associate, or send us an email at and we will be happy to assist you. For shoppers unable to physically come to the store, items available online may be able to be shipped, depending upon the destination as well as the item itself.  For more information on getting in touch with us, visit our Contact page.




#1 on Huffington Post's list of top indie bookstores in the country.

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