Video: A Brief Chat With the Owner of John K. King Books

January 29, 2015, 10:00 PM by  Allan Lengel

John King sits in the lunchroom of his towering, four-story business, John K. King Books at  901 W. Lafayette Blvd., near the Lodge Freeway in downtown Detroit.

"I tell people we were here before Borders, we were here during Borders' reign and we're here after Borders' demise. So, we've  been here and continue to be here."

He sells used and rare books.

He said he's been at the current downtown location since the early 1980s, and employs a  dozen people, some of whom have been with him for decades. Before that, he operated for 12 years out of the Michigan Theater building at 220 Bagley. He also currently has a second location on Woodward Avenue in Ferndale that opened in the late 1980s.

He says he buys a lot of books from families or lawyers representing deceased people and from collectors who are looking to freshen their collection or reduce inventory.   

In all, at the downtown location and in Ferndale, he's got  more than 1 million used books, hardcover and softcover. Of those, about 26,0000 are rare ones including a the first edition of the "Book of Mormon," which is on sale for $100,000.  He's also got a couple books signed by Albert Einstein. 

Does he read a lot of books?

"I don't have time," he says, explaining that he does read the newspaper. "I read the Detroit Free Press and and Detroit News religiously. I read the paper edition."

King sat down the other day with Deadline Detroit to talk about the operation.

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