John K. King Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-0622
John K. King is the big kahuna when it comes to local used bookstores. Crammed with miles and miles of books, and occupying a quaint old glove factory, you can get everything from old postcards to maps, from great literature to cheesy novelizations of Welcome Back, Kotter, and, unlike some dour booksellers, you can always expect service with a smile. They also offer a fascinating selection of Michigan historical materials.
26010 Greenfield, Oak Park; 248-968-1190
Tucked into the corner of yet another anonymous suburban strip mall, Book Beat is a startling oasis of culture. Crammed floor-to-ceiling with such an interesting assortment of books and other tchotchkes, and staffed by knowledgeable folks, it's like you took a big-box bookstore, with its myriad selections, and winnowed out all the corporate chaff. There's even an in-store gallery with rotating art exhibits.
The Library Bookstore
169 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-545-4300
Here's an intimate little place perfect for browsing, with stock that encompasses spiritual texts, books of poetry, mystery novels — gosh, even their juvenilia section is two shelves wide and often two books deep. Whether you're looking for classic printings of literature, old copies of LIFE magazine or just some calendars for gift-giving, this little shop is just big and smartly selected enough to meet most shoppers' needs.
15 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 313-875-4677
Maybe it's a magic formula: Come up with a fun name, give it a possessive, stock a thoughtful selection of books from the hipper end of the spectrum and bring on a slew of special author events. It has worked for Quimby's (Chicago) and Powell's (Portland, Ore.) and now the charm blesses Leopold's, founded a little more than a year ago by owners Greg Lenhoff and Sarah Winchell. The spunky little store, on the Woodward Avenue side of the Park-Shelton, carries a boutique, "curated" selection of publications, including plenty of graphic novels, indie efforts, locally themed volumes, art mags and zines, including Steve Hughes' Stupor. If you're looking for something specific, hands-on proprietor Greg Lenhoff is probably behind the counter, ready to assist you.
Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room
114 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-2757
With the closing of Ann Arbor's Shaman Drum Bookshop, Tree Town still has consciousness covered with the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room. Not only are there books spanning the subjects of holistic health, religion and philosophy, but there are oils, stones, tarot cards and other gewgaws for the consciousness-raising set. Upstairs is a cozy, tranquil café to gain a little repose before you decide on your final purchase — or choose to change your life path.
Shrine of the Black Madonna
13535 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-491-0777
This inner-city bookstore carries a library of volumes covering not just African-American history, but the histories of the broad range of cultures affected by African diaspora. Reading material roams from the educational tomes of Cheikh Anta Diop to the racy erotic fiction of Zane. An upstairs wing is used to host poetry readings and community gatherings, and nationally known authors and poets are frequent visitors.