Ken Sanders Rare Books

by Hannah K. New

I moved to SLC ten years ago and one thing that impressed me right off was the bounty of independent book stores. The large space at Wellers in Trolly Square, the cozy maze at the neighborhood’s King’s English. Let’s not forget places like Under the Umbrella, Marissa’s, Frost’s bookstore and Benchmark books (where else will you get Nauvoo Dollars?). But today I want to talk about the new space that Ken Sanders Rare Books has found.

Ken Sanders

The beauty of Ken Sanders Rare books in its old 200 East location was going in wanting a particular book and coming out with ten books I didn’t know I needed and maybe an old postcard of the elephant Princess Alice from the 1940s. If Ken Sanders was there I might have have left with a story of Edward Abbey and a river trip or how Hayduke from the Monkeywrench Gang was definitely not based on Sanders.

When I heard that the Leonardo had offered Ken Sanders space, I was skeptical. How was the Leonard going to fit all of Sanders’ glorious book mess into that museum? Would Sanders have to scale down?

The Arches Reader edited by Jeffrey D. Nichols

Last Friday (May 10, 2024), I attended a reading of one of our authors. (Jeffrey Nichols and his book Arches Reader.) I entered the Leonardo from the gift shop. The place was clean and neat. Ken Sanders was next door. Rows and rows of children’s books, trade titles, and coffee table books, sat on pretty shelves. It was a bookstore fit for a museum: entertaining, educational, and beautiful.

Jeff Nichols reading from his book The Arches Reader

But then I was led downstairs, pass the rare book room to the bottom third floor. This was the Sanders bookstore I knew and loved. Where history and books met. Where you can find the posters, vinyl, and ancient books you didn’t know you needed.

A wall of pictures and posters from Ken Sanders third floor.

The Leonardo is the perfect space for the new Ken Sanders Rare Books. It houses the new, the old, the art, and the history of Sanders, the west and of Salt Lake City. As the Leonard says on its website, “We created The Leonardo to honor and embody the spirit of this Renaissance Man. We see the world as he saw it: full of wonders to be uncovered, always asking why?” ( In housing this bookstore, the Leonardo is furthering their mission of embodying this spirit.

I highly encourage you to make the visit to Ken Sanders Rare Books. It is well worth the trip. And maybe buy a University of Utah Press book. Need a suggestion? Just ask me.

Hannah K. New is the marketing manager for the University of Utah Press

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