Store History

Ken Sanders Rare Books was founded in 1990 in Salt Lake City, Utah by Ken Sanders. In August of 1997, Ken and daughter Melissa Sanders moved the business to downtown Salt Lake City. Since the opening of our downtown location, Ken Sanders Rare Books has grown to be a vital member of the community by making books of all kinds available and by hosting numerous and diverse events.

After 26 years, the shop relocated again due to development pressures. Since September of 2023, we have been operating out of our new location inside the Leonardo Museum.

Although the business was founded in 1990, our roots go back further. Founder Ken Sanders's interest in books has been lifelong--it is from his passion for books that the store gets its distinctive voice. Our inventory is vast, eclectic, and ever-changing, featuring art, ephemera, maps, postcards, and photography in addition to new, used, and rare books. Our specialties reflect both the unique heritage of Utah and the West and the unique vision of Ken Sanders.

Over the years, we have maintained an open shop in an era of vanishing bookstores and built our inventory up to over 100,000 books. We have hosted numerous artistic and literary events, including the most attended poetry reading in Utah history (our 50th anniversary tribute to Ginsberg's Howl with Alex Caldiero). We have won several "Best Of" awards from The Salt Lake City Weekly (including Best Beard on a Rare Book Dealer), and in 2005 Ken Sanders received the Salt Lake City Mayor's Award for Contributions to the Arts. Most of all, we have been a place for books and people to come together.

We believe that stores like ours provide a necessary counterpoint to the sameness of chain stores and bestseller lists. We hope you'll stop by to see what we're all about.