In their latest issue, SLUG (SaltLakeUnderGround) magazine profiles one of my favorite booksellers, Ken Sanders. The piece written by Erik Lopez is titled Ken Sanders: Pimp of the Printed Word and provides us a glimpse into the rich world of Sanders.
Sanders, who is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of his bookshop, has also achieved success as a publisher, his Dream Garden Press has published a Robert Crumb illustrated version of Edward Abbey's environmental classic Monkey Wrench Gang, and more recently has become an expert in the field of stolen books. His recent tenure as head of the Security division of the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America) was a watershed event for the organization. Sanders was directly responsible for tracking down and keeping tabs on numerous suspected book thieves and informing the organization of their whereabouts at any given time.
As much as he loves books Sanders loves the west. He says:
"I appreciate the civil war, I appreciate colonial America and history but it’s the West that really comes alive … maybe because it’s so relatively recent. The experience of what this land was like and this landscape and being able to go out today and wander in the West desert and still see the imprints of the wagons from the Donner/Reed party and other western immigrants, it really brings the history alive."
and Sanders has spent many years defending the places he loves. Whether it is through direct action, he was heavily involved in the early Earth First years and was friends with Edward Abbey and Dave Foreman, or through his publishing venture or through the material he stocks at the bookshop it is abundantly clear that Sanders has a deep sense of place and will do all he can to keep it alive.
He is a national treasure.
Photo by Chris Swainston