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King's English Bookstore

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Betsy Burton opened the King's English Bookstore in Sugarhouse 25 years ago. Her goal was to create a store with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, a place where readers of all ages and tastes could go to buy books, browse shelves and share discoveries.

Of course, Betsy and her partner, Barbara Hoagland, compete with the large, corporate book dealers that can often put smaller, independently owned bookstores out of business. So what's made the difference and why has the King's English been so successful?

First of all, it's not at all like a corporate bookstore. When I entered, the door jingled and I was greeted at once by a member of Betsy's staff. I glanced around and saw customers seated in comfortable-looking chairs and couches, browsing books, and sipping coffee. In fact, it felt more like the study or library of an old mansion than it did a bookstore.

Betsy told me that while the King's English may not carry all books, it carries good books. One of Betsy's aims, as well as the staff's, is to help clients find those books. The employees there are voracious readers, as passionate and dedicated to literature as Betsy. They have different tastes, of course, and Betsy tries to keep two or three of them on hand, so that if the customer's interests lie in mystery, flash-fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry, he or she will find someone in the store qualified to suggest titles and authors. Likewise, the store's selection of children's literature is perhaps the best in the state.

The King's English is famous for hosting famous authors and their book signings. For example, Isabel Allende, John Irving and E. L. Doctorow have all visited the store, not to mention every living Nobel Prize winning poet but one.

During this Saturday's Small Business Celebration, customers will receive 10 percent off of all of their purchases and cartoonist Pat Bagley will be in the store as well to meet with fans and sign books.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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