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Salt Lake's Weller Books Works marks 85 years of turning pages

Published August 22, 2014 7:53 am

Books • Iconic indie bookstore throws a party for its anniversary.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

To mark the Weller family's 85th year of selling books in Salt Lake City, the independent store is planning a reading and open house on Saturday.

The store is continuing its "unrepentant bookselling," despite all the naysayers who question the idea of brick-and-mortar stores in an online age. "What it comes down to is we still love what we're doing, we still love this community and we're still unrepentant about that," says book buyer Catherine Weller, who co-owns the store with her husband, Tony. "We're going to keep on selling books as long as we can. I don't plan on doing anything else, and Tony doesn't either."

Using the tagline of "unrepentant bookselling" to bill the anniversary event is amusing, but also refers to her father-in-law Sam Weller's response when customers asked why he stocked books that might be considered politically or religiously controversial. "Sam used to say: 'We're in the business to sell books,' " Catherine Weller says. "Part of being a bookseller is to keep ideas out in the open."

Gustav Weller opened Zions Book Store, which since has become Weller Book Works, in 1929. His son, Sam, took over running the store in the 1940s along with his wife, Lila. Son Tony Weller took over the bookstore in 1990, expanding the rare books collection and supervising the move to Trolley Square, the store's fifth location, in 2012.

The store downgraded from 30,000 square feet at its Main Street location to about 10,000 at Trolley Square — "so we essentially traded the basement for free parking," she says.

The move allowed the store to scale itself for modern bookselling, Catherine Weller says. "Book sales aren't exactly what they used to be, because there aren't quite as many readers reading quite as many books. The times when books were wallpaper in a bookstore — those times are gone. Bookstores are more curated now, and we're more precise about what we're selling."

Saturday's event begins with a 2 p.m. reading by Utah writer John Keahey, and will continue with music, refreshments and prizes from 5-9 p.m.

ellenf@sltrib.com

facebook.com/ellen.weist —

Party like you're turning 85

P Weller Book Works marks its 85th anniversary on Saturday.

Where • 607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City

Reading • 2 p.m. reading by John Keahey, former Salt Lake Tribune reporter and editor, and author of "Hidden Tuscany: Discovering Art, Culture, and Memories in a Well-Known Region's Hidden Places."

Open house • 5-9 p.m.; refreshments, music and prizes. Remarks by Tony and Catherine Weller at 7:30 p.m.

Info • 801-328-2586 or wellerbookworks.com