the Little Red Reviewer

the best gift you can give a book lover

Posted on: September 9, 2013

believe it or not, the best gift you can give to a book lover is not more books.

the best gift you can give to a book lover is introducing them to a new bookstore! Seriously, September should be “share your favorite bookstore with a friend who has never been there” month.

On Saturday I went with a good friend to John King Books in Detroit. He’d never been there before, and I keep talking about the place.  I’ve written about this store a few times before, it’s famous in the area for being the largest used bookstore in Michigan.  It’s even got a cameo in Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines! Mr. King got his start once upon a time as a collector and appraiser of rare books. As the collection grew he needed more and more space. Finally, he bought a four story warehouse and filled it (and I do mean filled!) to the ceiling with books and related paraphernalia. Being down the road from Wayne State University, there is plenty of scholarly material, plus cases and cases of vinyl records, vintage children’s books, postcards, lithographs, and we even saw an antique typewriter.  Did I mention the miles and miles of books? The bookstore is just for regular retail books, his rare book room is by appointment only.

Visiting John King is an adventure, let me tell you! It’s not unlike being in the Cave of Wonders from the Disney version of Aladdin crossed with a Choose your Own Adventure story, you just want to explore, and explore and explore, because who knows what will be around the next corner? We had a blast going through the different floors and enjoying the hand drawn maps and signs. There are milk crates at the end of many aisles filled with more books. There are milk crates in the aisles to use as step stools.  The shelving is basic, the lighting is terrible, the building has no heat or AC. I finally found the bathroom.

I visit John King Books every few months, and unfortunately, their science fiction section was very picked over on this visit.  I was also on a strict budget this time, so stayed away from the new-ish stuff shelves and played the “how much can I get for $20?” game.  I got a few gems, a few weird ones, and other random stuff that jumped out at me!

not a bad haul:


I can’t resist these Star Trek novelizations.  at $3, it was the most expensive item I bought.

Genius Unlimited by John Phillifent was highly recommended, anyone else read this?

I couldn’t say no to the crazy cover art on The Mote in Time’s Eye, this photo doesn’t do it justice. The author is French, which is cool too. I’m always looking for more translated works.

my friend and I got a kick out of the title of Starship and Haiku. And speaking of international authors, we’re not sure how to pronounce the author’s name, but he won a bunch of awards. and did I mention – hella cool title?


I’ve been trying to get a vintage copy of both SLAN and World of Null-A for ages. I keep running into (and buying!) other Van Vogt titles, but these two have been on my wish list for a long time. I was a little pissed that there was handwriting on the front and back covers of SLAN, but the binding quality of the other available copy was  questionable. Anyone have any tips on how to get ink off of book covers? As a quick fix I may just resort to white-out or white nail polish.

and of course I had to buy a copy of The Space Merchants. Ended up with a copy that had very boring cover art because the copies with awesome cover art had bad binding. In hindsight, I should have bought more Frederick Pohl.

The Andre Norton I picked up for someone else. But i think I’ll read it before giving it to her.  😉

Bonus! as we were driving to Detroit, we saw the Goodyear blimp!   omgosh, we hit so much college football traffic it wasn’t even funny.

10 Responses to "the best gift you can give a book lover"

I eagerly await your review of Starship & Haiku.


have you read it? omg, have you heard of it??


No to both! But it sounds amazing.


I agree with the gift giving part. When I find a new book store I tend to go a bit crazy and buy way too much.


same here. and the larger the store, the more likely I am to overspend.


Robert’s Books in Lincoln City, OR.


So jealous. I want to visit a huge book store with new and old books! Dagnabit… and tarnation….
Lynn 😀


I ❤ John King, but I haven't been down there in ages — last time I was, their SF/fantasy paperbacks were very thin. Meanwhile, I found they had like three rows of hardcovers on the opposite side of the floor. Found some awesome stuff.

I've actually had better luck at John King North in Ferndale (Woodward and 9 Mile), always walk out with an armload there. Then again that's probably just because it's closer and I visit it more often.

Anyways. NICE haul! I loved Space Merchants, and I enjoyed the van Vogts (though they’re not everyone’s cup of tea). The Norton I think I came close to buying last time I was there, haha. And Starship And Haiku? Awesome title.


Yeah, it’s always funny that paperback Scifi is at the opposite end of the room from Hardback. and lots of the newer books are the taller format of book, so they don’t fit on the paperback shelves, thus are in the back with hardback. very confusing, but if you think about it like they are organized by book height, it makes perfect sense. or something.

Just this afternoon I found the Ferndale John King! Too bad I didn’t have time to stop, but at least now I know where it is. I’m super excited for Space Merchants, and Starship and Haiku.


I always love perusing the used book store racks and seeing the super old cover art. It’s so interesting to see the direction cover art has gone over the years.


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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