“My father used to swear that I was born with a book in my hand,” says Ken Sanders. “I can’t remember a time that I didn’t like books and read books. The earliest most powerful one that I remember specifically was from grade school, a book called The Shy Stegosaurus From Cricket Creek.”
Ken is an antiquarian bookseller. His friend Scott Carrier interviewed him about his lifelong love of books.
“When I discovered old books instead of new books, I liked those better because they looked stranger, y’know, they looked old. They smelled different. The ones printed on really cheap pulp paper had a really kind of sharp, acrid smell to them. If I went to class I’d just sit and read books. I wasn’t disruptive, but I just would completely and utterly ignore the teachers. I picked better books than they did.”
By seventh grade, Ken was already a serious collector. He remembers that one beloved enabler of his habit was Pop, his grandfather. “I begged Pop to take me to Bertrand Smith’s Acres of Books (in Long Beach, Calif.). Pop was so patient. He drove me there and he just let me loose in this store. That’s when I bought a giant Folio Edition of The Raven by Poe with illustrations by Gustave Dore. I paid seventeen dollars and fifty cents for that Raven.
“You knew you had a find or were you wondering if you were crazy?” asks Scott.
“I never wondered that,” says Ken. “I was like, ‘Wow! This is a find. I gotta have this!’”