Ken Sanders Rare Books
Ken Sanders Rare Books, a true cultural staple in THE BLOCKS and a local treasure, was founded in 1990 and has been at its downtown location since 1997. You can find all manner of things in the quaint shop. The vast collection includes art, ephemera, maps, postcards, and photography in addition to new, used, and rare books.
While on a business trip to Paris (check out this interview he did for a Paris news station) Ken Sanders took a few moments to tell us about his store, its mission and the future of Ken Sanders Rare Books.
What is the mission of Ken Sanders Rare Books?
To promote literacy and culture through the printed word. To provide tools to increase awareness and social justice. To further authors and artists whose causes we believe in. To gain exposure and respect for Utah authors and artists such as Wallace Thurman, May Swenson, Bernard DeVoto, Maurine Whipple, Dale Morgan, Juanita Brooks, Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey, Raymond F. Jones, Terry Tempest Williams, Ellen Melody, Amy Irvine, Scott Carrier, Trent Harris, Alex Caldiero, Leia Bell, Trent Call, Ken Brewer, David Lee, Donna Poulton, Sandy Anderson, Nancy Takacs, Sara Caldiero and so many more.
Our downtown bookshop is overflowing with over 100,000 books of all kinds: science, philosophy, religion and metaphysics, children’s literature and illustrated books, wordless novels and woodcuts, mystery and detective fiction, fantasy and science fiction, western explorations and travels, Utah and the Mormons, Native Americans and the West, literature and a vast selection of poetry, natural history, the outdoors, National Parks and Wilderness, sustainability, social justice, archaic skills, radical politics, labor and IWW. The bookshop regularly hosts author readings, poetry readings, musical performances and visual and other artistic endeavors.
What are the murals of on the side of the building? Who painted them and why were those subjects chosen?
The murals on the exterior walls have grown organically and mostly the artists have reached out to us. We had long desired a Trent Call mural and he kindly obliged with “Come In And Remember What A Book Smells Like.” It is so far, the lone mural on the south side of the building, in the alley.
Being that the shop is a cultural staple in THE BLOCKS and has been for some time, how have you seen the arts and culture scene evolve over the years? How have you seen the shop fitting into that ecosystem?
What does the future of Ken Sanders Rare Books look like?
I’ve had a good run, I’ve met and become friends with an astonishing body of creative people over a lifetime. What other community boasts such a wealth of creative diversity as Alex Caldiero and Terry Tempest Williams, Scott Carrier and Amy Irvine, Kate MacLeod and Trent Harris, Leia Bell and Trent Call, and so many others. I have tried to make a difference.