The King of Books
From the Lodge Freeway rises a pale blue warehouse with a giant painted hand reaching around the corner. The iconic John K. King Used & Rare Books houses a legendary labyrinth of books – 1 million packed into four floors, to be precise.
Kids can get lost in a sea of stories and find a treasure to read at the store or buy and take home – or both.
“We have a large selection of out-of-print books,” says owner King, who credits a high school guidance counselor with turning his love of books into a career. “Things that have been around more than a century, that kids can’t find anywhere else, books that open up a whole new vista for kids.”
Have a furry friend? Bring them, too. “The bookstore is pet-friendly – well, more dog-friendly. I don’t think cats would do well here, or zebras,” King quips. You’re likely to meet his dogs, too – Charlie Dickens, a pug mix, and Sophie, a Maltese.
During busy times, expect to be greeted at the door. But any time you come, the staff relishes helping visitors discover a new favorite. In fact, there’s so much to discover, there are maps available (plus plenty of free parking outside).
“We’ve noticed there are a lot of parents coming in lately with their kids,” says King. “There’s just something about being able to open up a book, feel the pages, read them, look at the wonderful illustrations. It opens up a wider world for kids.”
Lit with History
No two rooms look alike among the 32 within The Book Loft of German Village in Columbus, Ohio. Kids can roam and find an empty nook to sit down and browse the titles – which spill into a quaint courtyard, too. This historic building feels more like a home, with a maze of stairways that seem to have little rhyme or reason beyond offering cozy spaces to turn pages. You can easily spend an afternoon here – and leave with a bag of books. “There’s an incredible children’s section,” says co-owner Russ Iler. “Over one-quarter of our store is kids books.”
Tons of Tomes
As Minneapolis’ largest independent bookstore, Magers & Quinn Booksellers is filled to the brim with books, offering 8,000 square feet of retail space (plus another 10,000 devoted to storing even more books). All told, you can take your pick of some 250,000 titles. Besides new releases, expect to find used, discount and collectible children’s and young adult options. And, if you’re looking for vintage books, you’ll find them here too.
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Photo by Jason Vaughn