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Best Specialty Bookstores In Detroit

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Some may think that bookstores are a dying breed, but luckily there are still many out there that are alive and thriving. Read below for the best specialty bookstores in the area, whether you're looking for a comic book, rare book or something that you wouldn't normally find at your local Barnes & Noble.

Vault of Midnight
219 S. Main St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 998-1413

If you're looking for a comic book fix, Vault of Midnight is located in downtown Ann Arbor and has a vast collection of comic books as well as other related items, including gifts. The store opened in 1996, and is the go-to place for toys, games, comics, graphic novels, memorabilia and more. The store's founder, Curtis Sullivan, originally opened his first store on South Ashley near the Fleetwood Diner, and moved to Liberty Street soon after; eventually the store moved to Main Street. Vault of Midnight is also the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Awards, given by the (San Diego) Comic Con to retailers who have made significant contributions to the comic book industry.

Related: Best Comic Book Stores In Detroit

John K. King Used & Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Road
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-0622

The John K. King bookstore is one of Michigan's largest if you're looking for a used or rare book. It has two locations, one in Detroit and the other at John King Books North, at 22524 Woodward Avenue in Ferndale. The Detroit location has two buildings, one of which was formerly an abandoned glove factory from the '40s, and the building still retains that "factory feel." Thee other building, directly behind it, used to be the Otis Elevator Building. John K. King's website is also very extensive. The bookstore opened in 1965 and is one of the biggest in the country.

Dawn Treader Book Shop
514 E. Liberty St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 995-1008

Dawn Treader is located in downtown Ann Arbor, next to TK Wu, and always seems to have carts of books outside its doors for customers' perusal. It has been in business for 22 years, starting as a basement book shop, and has something for everyone: rare/antique books, maps, and even bargain books. It's very easy to get (metaphorically) lost in Dawn Treader's stacks, and currently has over 70,000 books. Book prices ranging from 50 cents to thousands of dollars. Dawn Treader is also interested in buying books, specifically science and humanities scholarly books, modern first-editions and books about travel and exploration. Check out Dawn Treader the next time you take a trip over to U of M's campus.

Related: Best Indie Bookshops Around Detroit

The Book Beat
26010 Greenfield Road
Oak Park, MI 48237
(248) 968-1190

The Book Beat has been in business since 1982,= and is a great place to go if you are looking for children's books or books about art and photography. It also has a big selection of "quality literature," and the store is owned husband/wife Colleen Kammer and Carey Loren. The store is located inside a strip mall, but don't let that fool you. Inside you will find a great variety of all sorts of books and novels. The Book Beat recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and hopefully it will stick around for years to come.

Shrine Of The Black Madonna Bookstore
13535 Livernois Ave.
Detroit, MI 48238
(313) 491-0777

The Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore has locations in Atlanta, Houston and Detroit. It is a non-profit store that opened in 1970 and is one of the oldest and largest black-owned bookstores in the country. The store focuses on books written by African and African-American authors, and it also hosts the Karamu Art Gallery and the Black Holocaust Museum, which is about slavery. It sells African clothing, handmade jewelry, arts, gifts and greeting cards as well. The Detroit store is located near the Detroit Cultural District, and it has the biggest selection of African and African-American books in Michigan; over 15,000 books. The store also offers group tours for up to 150 people, including the art gallery, Black Holocaust Museum, a history lecture and African storytelling. Make your reservation at least two weeks in advance. The service charge for these tours is $75.

Liz Parker is a freelance writer and a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature. Her work can be found at

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