The Rare, the Antique, the Arcane

Photo by Ed Di Maio

Steven Link sits on a stool surrounded by heaps of books – stacks and stacks of assorted titles – an orderly chaos that appears quite similar to the telephone booth pouring with books in the front window display that overlooks Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.

“People want titles they see in the phone booth, but I try to tell them ‘it’s display,’” Link laughs, gesturing toward the antique booth he purchased from the town of Baileys Harbor. “It’s very strategic, the stacking.”

Though, he admits that he understands the appeal of used bookstores: “The fun thing is rummaging. I’m guilty of pulling out books and going through boxes.” And his bookstore offers an array of discoveries, from random books categorized by topic to old maps to an unopened E.T. action figure.

“I try to appeal to all tastes and all interests,” says Link, a book collector and self-proclaimed “avid reader.”

Owner Steven Link

“I was the kid sitting in the hallway reading – not wanting to read the books assigned to me,” he laughs. He started collecting “what I wanted to read,” he says, “then rare editions.”

He gestures toward the towering shelves of books, “this is primarily my private collection.”

The bookstore features 17,000 titles on the floor with more – a lot more – titles stored in the back of the store. Before Link set up shop he had about 15,000 books in his private collection, and then he bought the inventory of a bookstore, which added 20,000 more titles.

“I find books all over the place,” says Link. And if he does not have the title in house, he will “do scouting for people,” he adds. “I know a lot of dealers in the Midwest.”

Stepping over the stacks of books he reveals a few of his favorite pieces: a 20-voume Oxford Dictionary and the 1854 Pacific Railroad Expedition Survey complete with fold-out drawings and that distinct smell of an old book. He also opens a book signed by Stephen King, as well as a variety of horror writers, and points to a framed document – an official civil war slave deed.

“I’m intrigued by things from [the Civil War] era, but I want actual things. I want to see them.”

Along with historical documents he also collects arcane books and antiques, “everyday items that are disappearing without us realizing they are disappearing,” he says. One example is the phone booth, another pencil sharpeners.

And for all that Untitled offers, Link states he “couldn’t be in a more perfect building. I lucked out with the exposed brick and high ceiling. It’s perfect.”

His reception into the community since opening just this past January has also been positive. “It’s been fantastic,” he says. “I’m warmly received by locals and tourists, many commented that they will make this a regular stop.”

Open year round, Link also considers launching future events and continuing to offer a “little bit of everything” as he puts it.

“Untitled” Used, Rare & Antiquarian Books, Maps, and Ephemera is located at 20 N. 3rd Avenue in Sturgeon Bay. For more information call 920.746.3171, email [email protected], visit or search for “Untitled” Used & Rare Books on Facebook.