Bookstore Birthday


Before I started teaching, I worked in a bookstore. As a passionate reader, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It was a delightful little independent bookshop in Salt Lake City, called The King’s English. It was opened in 1977 by Betsy Burton, an even more passionate reader whose lifelong dream was to have her own bookstore. With all that passion, it was simply an idea that couldn’t fail, and although it’s been 30 years of struggling against the big chain bookstores, and all kinds of independent bookshop woes, The King’s English has endured and is still an important and lovely part of SLC.

So this year, TKE turns 30, and I want to wish her a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I have many lovely memories of being a customer there for five years before getting hired on for the Thursday night and Sunday afternoon shifts. Stopping by the bookstore on my way home from a previous part-time job was pure pleasure. I wandered happily through the little rooms, all the nooks and crannies, exploring the eclectic selection of books, and always finding a treasure of some kind. Betsy loved mysteries, so the mystery room was absolutely delicious. That’s where I discovered the books of Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh, Dashiell Hammett. A cat lived in the store–a good mouser–and was, of course, named Agatha. (After I started working there, Agatha and I became great friends. When she brought me a mouse one snowy Sunday afternoon, I knew I was loved.)

I worked there for four years, and quit only when I was hired as a teacher in a local school district and no longer had the time nor energy to work at the bookstore. However, before leaving the store, I put together a photo essay to preserve the memories of that experience. I offer those photos here, as a birthday present to a very special place, The King’s English.

Click on the link to see some photos I took at The King’s English.

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3 thoughts on “Bookstore Birthday

  1. Robin

    Thanks for reading my post, Karen! I’m sure you’d love The King’s English. The store is located in a nice old residential area, so it’s such a different experience than driving to the mall or shopping center. You can see from my old photos that readers would walk in and make themselves at home, reading for hours in the old chairs, having coffee or tea, leaving stacks of books everywhere. Betsy really put together a reader’s heaven when she started her business 30 years ago, and it’s retained that intimate, personal feeling for all these years.

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  2. Nan -

    Thank you for telling me about this post, Robin. I loved what you wrote and I so enjoyed the slide show. It felt like I was walking through the store. It was like a home, the way a book would be leaned against a chair as if the reader had just gotten up for a minute. And the books on the floor in front of shelves. I’ve never seen such a homey store. It makes me even more excited to read the book. Thanks again.

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