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The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  263 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Betsy Burton, owner of The King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City, has been a bookseller for nearly thirty years, and a passionate book lover all her life.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 22nd 2005 by Gibbs Smith (first published April 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
There's quite a bit of detail here about the joys and woes of owning an independent bookstore. Some very interesting, some merely scanworthy unless you are yourself a bookstore owner. The best thing for me about the book was the book lists. Burton requested a variety of "best of" lists from other bookstore owners and compiled them for our enjoyment at the back of the book. I've since found many a gem from these lists. And clunkers, too, of course, but it's all about preferences.

I loved what Bet
Each chapter has a theme and each chapter ends with a list of recommended books from the independent bookshop, The King's English, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Running throughout each chapter is the biography of the bookshop, the authors hosted, events planned, and all the things that go into owning and operating an independent bookshop.

I absolutely love books about books. They seem so homey and cozy to me that normally I pull them out to read when the wind is howling and the snow is piling up
Nov 15, 2015 Candace rated it liked it
As this became an assignment for class, I finally made time to read it. First and foremost, reading this made me homesick for The King's English and Ken Sanders--for Salt Lake in general. I enjoyed Burton's conversational storytelling, but the inevitable mis-ordering of events frayed the cohesiveness after a while. The addition of book lists was pure genius, however, and I greatly enjoyed perusing them and their varying themes. A fascinating entrepreneurial adventure to be sure and I'm glad to h ...more
May 27, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
I think there are two reasons why I wanted to read this book: 1) I've met Betsy Burton and 2) it was on sale. I'm an (extremely) infrequent reader of nonfiction, but when I do find a nonfiction book I like, I devour it. That was the case with this book, a memoir (?) of Betsy's experiences starting and managing The King's English bookshop in SLC. I can't quite pinpoint why I enjoyed it so much. Perhaps it was Betsy's refreshing honesty about EVERYTHING (something I barely see in the polite compan ...more
Mary Perkins
Jan 27, 2013 Mary Perkins rated it it was amazing
Like most avid readers, you've likely, at some point in your life, hankered after owning your own bookstore. Let this book serve as a warning@ Betsy Burton is the owner of The King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City. In this memoir she details the ups, the downs, the really downs, and the inspirations that keep her going. In topical chapters she details both the business and the literary side of book store ownership. Her descriptions of her encounters with authors are very interesting and rev ...more
Apr 01, 2010 Jonathan rated it it was ok
The book was least interesting when Burton put aside her experiences and engaged in uninspired moralizing. The chapter on freedom of speech was a McGuffin if ever there was one. She wears the censorship that never happens as a badge of honor and attribute the most devious motives to people who don't look or act like her regular clientele. I am not saying that they weren't there to enforce public decency laws, but it is a bit ridiculous to a) assume you know what would offend them, and b) not giv ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Peggie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves books.
If you love books, love to read, and are always looking for the next book to read, this book is for you. I checked it out because it was a staff favorite on my library web site. I am lucky enough to live in the same town as this store and so was intrigued by the thought of a bookstore writing a book.

I will have to say this book may have changed my life. I don't read fiction as a rule (Harry Potter, excepted) because I feel like the author is manipulating my emotions. After reading this book wit
William Blair
Feb 11, 2010 William Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the book that triggered my interest in books about books, book collecting, book collectors, booksellers, bookstores, and reading. I was for some now-forgotten reason interested in the history of English (probably because of some PBS or History Channel broadcast) and figured that this was just the book to whet my appetite. It wasn't at all what I thought, but it did whet my appetite for more.

The book itself is ostensibly about a small, independent bookstore and how it survived the onsla
Oct 13, 2008 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is written by the founder of an independent bookstore, The King's English, in Salt Lake City. For the first five years of my married life, I lived within walking distance of this cozy, marvelous bookstore. Despite its size and location (tucked into a largely residential neighborhood), The King's English has attracted an array of notable authors and poets for readings. I gave the book four stars at least in part because of my familiarity with the store and many of the events mentioned i ...more
Apr 27, 2009 Christina rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, borrowed
I liked it. Didn't give it a four simply because I was able to put it down, and finishing it felt a bit like a homework assignment. The writing is good, albeit a bit florid at times. Burton gushes over most of the authors that have visited her store making her reviews a tiny bit suspect. She includes anecdotes of some bad author visits, but rarely reveals their identities. The best reasons to read the book (for me) were the book lists at the end of each chapter providing many new "to-reads" and ...more
Cynthia Sillitoe
Mar 09, 2015 Cynthia Sillitoe rated it really liked it
It was fun to read the history of a bookstore I have never known not to exist. TKE remains one of very few independent bookstores left in Utah. Believe me, they can always find your next must-read book.
Jan 25, 2009 Christian rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves books and community
Recommended to Christian by: A writer friend of mine
An absolutely charming chronicle of the struggles and triumphs of the independent bookstore in America. Betsey Burton has become something of an icon in such circles, and has seen the business she started almost three decades ago continue to evolve through a remarkable series of peaks and valleys. Worth reading not only by those who love books, but also by any entrepreneur who truly loves what their business represents and cares about the potential impact it can have on a local community. The Ki ...more
Lisa McGowan
Feb 03, 2016 Lisa McGowan rated it liked it
We spent a lot of time in this bookstore on our last trip to Salt Lake City. It's a great independent store so it was fun to read about the owner and history of the store.
May 03, 2015 Christina rated it really liked it
What a well written book about the trials and joys of owning a bookstore. The lists are great, the stories well told, and the undying passion for the well written word comes from every page. It's rare to find someone as passionate as oneself about books, but here is a kindred spirit indeed.
Mar 17, 2008 Ellie rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating history of one of my favorite bookstores. It makes some compelling arguments for supporting local businesses instead of buying from bigbox chain stores and websites. It hasn't kept me completing from buying on Amazon (I love shopping at 2am) and at Costco, but I try to balance my purchasing. In examining my own conscience, it's worth it to pay a couple of bucks more to have quaint little neighborhood stores like The King's English survive. This book has wonderful reading l ...more
A.K. Klemm
Aug 25, 2014 A.K. Klemm rated it it was amazing
I love this book! I think Betsy Burton is my newest hero.
May 03, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I'm re-reading this book since it inspires me in my own job.
This book is sure to delight the kind of person who can’t pass by a bookstore without stopping to browse. The King’s English is the name of an independent bookstore owned by Betsy Burton. Although subtitled “Adventures of an independent bookseller,” it goes far beyond the business of selling books. Betsy’s intrepid spirit sparkles in this funny and thoughtful memoir of a life surrounded and inspired by books. Her passion for literature
Jan 06, 2008 Rachelle rated it liked it
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to own or run a bookstore, this is the book for you! What an interesting history the Kings English has had. It was great to hear about all the authors they have brought to Salt Lake over the years. I was able to attend a few of the author events mentioned in the book - and it was wonderful to read about them from the perspective of the people who made it happen. I gained so much respect for bookstore owners after reading this book. There is not muc ...more
Dec 30, 2014 NancyS rated it liked it
Organization of the book was haphazard and did not make for a smooth, interesting read.
Jan 09, 2015 Janene rated it really liked it
Love this bookstore. Loved the story.
Jan 31, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, books
Betsy Burton is the founder and owner of an independent bookstore in SLC called The King's English. She mixes stories of her life as a bookseller and business owner with book recommendations and a passionate defense of independent bookstores. My favorite chapter was on fiction and all the wonderful authors the store has hosted over the years. She includes chapters on doing business in a Mormon majority area, poetry, mysteries (a specialty of their store), children's literature, and banned books. ...more
Jan 04, 2009 Oliver rated it really liked it
Since I'm going to Salt Lake City at the end of this month for an ABA conference, I knew that now was the perfect time to read this book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year now. This is one of my favorite types of books - a story about running an independent bookstore. It was well-written and the author is passionate about localism and the fight against big box retailers, which was inspiring to read. I can't wait to visit this bookstore in a few weeks (and maybe get my copy of ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
This book is about Betsy Burton's journey in opening and maintaining a little Indie book shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. My love of books and reading lead me to read all books about "books" and "reading". Betsy wrote such a lively and hopeful story about a book store that is well-loved by its customers and authors alike. Her passion for literature radiated throughout the story. The great pleasure I got from reading this book lead me to hunt down and read every single other book about book stores a ...more
Jun 28, 2010 Donna rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this read. The author's style takes a little getting used to--she uses lots of fragments, commas, etc. But it was well-written and very interesting.

I did edit out the author's rare but strong uses of expletives (and I am sure she would have something to say about my "censorship").

I can't wait for the trip our book club is taking to The King's English! The book made me want to visit the store on a regular basis. I wish it were closer. I might need to sign up for their newsletter
Sep 16, 2008 Rae rated it really liked it
I was thrilled when I spied this in a bookstore and I had to own it...not just read it. I have spent many hours in this bookstore over the years. It's a marvelous place...with a cat in residence! It's a great resource for mysteries and children's reads.

I loved reading about the challenges that come with running a bookstore...especially the competition that comes from the big-name superstores. I confess that I buy books from them. But I always support local bookstores, too. A really fun read.
Feb 15, 2008 Mindy rated it it was amazing
Our library director had the administrative team read this book. I never would have heard of it otherwise. This is a well written book that I highly recommend to anyone. It is an eye-opener when it comes to what is going on in the publishing/book selling world. It will be a rare day when I buy a book from a chain after reading this book. And be prepared to add a whole lot of books to your reading list because every chapter has book lists and often discusses in depth the book store's favorite boo ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
If I wasn’t a librarian, I think I’d like to be a bookstore owner. After reading The King’s English, I see it is a lot harder than it seems. Competition with big chains…tiffs among owners and employees…finding readers…difficulties obtaining books…prima donna authors…and those are the big problems. Nevertheless, the author, owner of Salt Lake City’s premier independent bookstore The King’s English, wouldn’t do anything other than run her store. A fun read.
Apr 11, 2014 Marilyn rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This was well-written. I got a little bogged down with the author's prejudices. The booklists alone were worth the read, and I always enjoy peeking into personalities of authors, so the descriptions of author visits were fun. I've only been to this bookstore a half dozen times, but I'll go again and see it in a new light.
Aug 24, 2008 Lesley rated it it was ok
This is my ongoing pick-up/put-down book that I read in between reading other things... Interesting tales from an independent bookstore in Salt Lake City Utah. I really love stories of independent booksellers -- my secret dream job!

Well, it's mostly a "put-down" book at this point... but I'll get back to it at some time.

OK - moved this to "to read" since I haven't picked it up in ages. Will get back to it at some point.
Nov 13, 2009 Renea rated it liked it
While I found this book interesting and the book lists valuable, I was appalled by the number of author's names that were misspelled! The worst example is Tomie DePaola. First of all, his first name was spelled Tomi throughout the book, and in one paragraph, his last name is spelled DePaola in the first sentence and DePaolo in the last sentence. I can't believe a book about books contains errors like that.
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