By Cristy Meiners, Producer
I’ve probably driven by Ken Sanders Rare Books more times that I can count, but I’m ashamed to say that I have never once stopped in. As a student at the University of Utah, I knew every used book store in the Salt Lake Valley (my personal favorite was Experienced Books, these days long out of business), but I was intimidated by the word “rare” on Sanders’ shop front. As a student I couldn’t afford rare books, so the bookshop never became a part of my weekly book hunt, even when, as a sophomore, I set out to find the James Bond collection in their original paperbacks. Allison Hoover Bartlett’s new book, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, not only showed me what I have missed over the years in avoiding Sanders’ bookstore, but it also guided me into the fascinating subculture of rare book collectors and the man who (seemingly) can’t stop himself from stealing from them. Visit Allison Hoover Bartlett’s website to see a list of the books that John Gilkey, the title’s “thief,” stole over the years from rare book dealers across the country. There, you can also read about some of the historical book thieves Hoover Bartlett discovered in her research, including Don Vincente, the nineteenth century Spanish monk she references in her interview with Bob.
And I have to admit: since reading Hoover Bartlett’s book, I have looked up the value of some of my own finds from used bookstore to see if maybe they are treasures to more people than just me (not that I would ever sell my books, but still… these things are nice to know). It wouldn’t be so bad to discover that I have a few rare books in my own collection; after all, you can bet that my next trip home will include a visit to Ken Sanders Rare Books and it would be nice to bring back a new book to my already established collection.