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Renowned rare book collector Reid Moon has spent 30 years collecting Bibles, classics in literature, and Mormon-related books in pursuit of his passion despite the unsolicited commentary that he’d never make a living in the book business.
Moon currently has an office in Zion’s Mercantile at the Riverwoods in Provo where people from all over come to learn about his impressive collection. Visitors look into his office through green-paned windows where they see bookshelves filled with rare books, from ancient Bibles to first edition copies of “The Lord of the Rings.”
After changing his major three times at BYU, Moon graduated in international relations then moved back to Dallas where his family owned a small LDS bookstore. He began working for an insurance company but was drawn toward the family bookstore.
“At the time it was pretty low volume,” Moon said. “There were five, maybe 10 customers a day. But I still found that I would rather spend time talking about books than trying to sell somebody insurance.”
Within the first year, sales went up significantly. Moon decided to leave the insurance company and work at the bookstore full-time.
Moon learned how to make collecting books a career even after his father told him he’d never make a living selling books.
“People would come into the bookstore and ask for out-of-print books,” Moon said. “So I learned how to track down these books, whether it was at DI or used bookshops. I made all these connections and started out tracking down books that were two dollars. After several years I started including $50 and $100 books.”
Moon said after about 15 years he began tracking down books that were hundreds of thousands of dollars. He learned early on that it would be impossible to become an expert in every field of book collecting, so he specialized in three different areas: Mormon related books, Bibles and classics in literature.
“I’ve tracked down books from the personal libraries of 12 of the 16 prophets,” Moon said. “I have everything from a Tyndale Bible to a first edition King James Bible to J.R.R. Tolkien’s personal Bible with his notes in it.”
Moon likes to refer to himself as a treasure hunter because he has travelled over a million and a half miles tracking down books.
Among his array of books, some of Moon’s favorites include Joseph Smith’s, Hyrum Smith’s and Samuel Smith’s personal copies of the Book of Mormon. He also enjoys Tolkien’s copy of the Bible, Marie Antoinette’s prayer book and a King James Bible that belonged to King James himself.
Junior Brady Wolfe, an Ancient Near Eastern studies major, and his wife Alyssa are currently helping Moon transcribe an old journal. Both of them enjoy spending time at Zion’s Mercantile with Moon to learn the stories behind the books.
“He has a lot of things that if you go to a museum or some sort of official library, they’d keep (it) locked behind doors,” Brady said. “But he makes it his purpose to let people experience history. We felt a real connection to the people he was talking about in the stories and it really just got us excited about history.”
“(Moon) is awesome,” Alyssa said. “We love history, we love reading, we love ancient literature. Everything (Moon) does is really interesting to us and we love learning from him, honestly. That’s our favorite part about doing projects from him, we get to spend time with him and learn.”
Moon is always willing to share what he has with the public. On multiple occasions he has been featured on the Glenn Beck show.
He frequently holds firesides and presentations for people who are interested in learning more about his collection of books.