There’s really nothing quite like the smell and aura of a really good used book store. Most times, you can get a complete feel for the store just by walking in and seeing the stacks and stacks of used books wildly-arranged about the place, yet tenderly done so with love by a staff that genuinely cares about books that are looking for a new home. Detroit is home to one of the world’s largest and most unusual bookstores, and nearby Ann Arbor is home to a trove of quality bookstores. Southeastern Michigan is certainly a book-buyers haven.
John K. King Used & Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-0622

For those who truly love that intoxicating old book smell and could spend hours walking through isle upon isle of used books, then John K. King Used & Rare Books in the downtown Detroit neighborhood of Corktown is certainly going to be one of the most impressive sights you’ll ever see. Open in 1965, this bookstore is celebrating five decades in the Motor City. It is also the largest in Michigan and one of the country’s largest bookstores altogether. John K. King Used & Rare Books is so large that it comprises two buildings which used to house an old glove factory. The store has a rare books room (viewing available only by appointment), an art books room, and offices. The store has over one million books in stock. A can’t miss!

Library Bookstore
169 W Nine Mile Rd.
Ferndale, MI 48220
(248) 545-4300

Though much smaller than John K. King Used & Rare Books, Ferndale’s own Library Bookstore has been a quiet book-lover’s gem for over 30 years. What this store lacks in size, it makes up for in quaint charm which is usually a used books store’s best attribute. From the soft news radio playing over a small speaker, to the stacks of books and helpful staff available to help you find what you need, or something close to it that you might never have thought of. The Library Bookstore is one of Detroit’s best places for a used book experience.

Inside, the Dawn Treader Book Shop has a plethora of used books. (credit: Michael Ferro)

Inside, the Dawn Treader Book Shop has a plethora of used books. (credit: Michael Ferro)

Dawn Treader Book Shop
514 E. Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 995-1008

Not far down the road from Detroit lies a city that was recently named by as a town in the Top 10 most well-read cities in America. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and a hotbed of literature and academia all-around. Ann Arbor is also home to a bevy of used book stores. A local favorite, the Dawn Treader Book Shop, is a quirky, incredibly large used bookstore right in downtown Ann Arbor.It is chocked full of used and well-loved books, that many are often piled up on the floor and along the walls. Somehow it works. With so many detailed sections of books to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding a book based on whatever your tastes might be.

Related:  A Day In Detroit’s Popular Corktown Neighborhood

Motte And Bailey Booksellers
212 N 4th Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 669-0451

Specializing in rare and hard-to-find books, or just flat out unusual books meant to tickle your perusing fancy, Motte and Bailey Booksellers is a smaller bookstore just north of the downtown area. This store definitely fills your nostrils with that satisfying used book smell as soon as you enter. Many of the books here are extremely rare and just taking a stroll though the store to gander at the offerings is worth a trip. Definitely an Ann Arbor used-book treasure spot that sometimes gets looked over, but most certainly shouldn’t be.

The West Side Book Shop has piles and piles of gently-used books to choose from. (credit: Michael Ferro)

The West Side Book Shop has piles and piles of gently-used books to choose from. (credit: Michael Ferro)

West Side Book Shop
113 W Liberty St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 995-1891

Located on the west side of downtown Ann Arbor lies the West Side Book Shop. At first glance inside, the store might look like a clumsy, disorganized used-book store. But a quick stroll around and a hello from the friendly shopkeep quickly reveals that there is more than meets the eye around here. This old converted house features many different rooms which double as their own genre spaces for many used books. The back of the store also holds a small art section, featuring some wonderful and unusual art for the literary-minded collector. If you’ve ever dreamed about filling an over 100-year-old house with books, then this place should illustrate that dream for you pretty quickly.

Related: A Breakdown Of Detroit Neighborhoods

Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at