Deseret Book Company, a Utah Staple

By Chandley Chynoweth

Deseret Book Company has been a part of the Utah community for 152 years. According to Deseret Management Corporation, Deseret Book is the market leader in books, media, art, decor, and lifestyle products serving members of the LDS Church. (“Deseret Book”) This company has become a staple in Utah for religious products and books.

Deseret Book picture 1

Photo by Chandley Chynoweth.

Elder George Q. Cannon founded Deseret Book in 1866 under the name of George Q. Cannon and Sons Company as a religious bookstore. (“About Desert Book Company”) Cannon’s company was bought by the Desert News and then in October 1919 it was merged with Deseret Sunday School bookstore, creating the name of Deseret Book Company. (“Deseret Book”) One of the first advertisements for Deseret Book appeared in the Deseret News and promoted LDS religious books on November 2, 1865. The company has continued to grow and expand its locations and products throughout the years.

Deseret Book Company Utah Daily Chronicle-1Deseret Book was started in Salt Lake City and has become a local staple for Utahns. It has kept up with current trends in order to provide its customers with relevant products and books. The Utah Chronicle published an ad for the Deseret Book Company on March 10, 1943, that advertised books to help prepare soldiers for their service in World War II.  On March 24, 1943, the Utah Chronicle featured another ad for Deseret Book Company that was advertising “The new soldier’s handbook” and “How to get along in the army.”

Seagull Book and Covenant Communications are two companies that have been competing with Deseret Book in the religious retail book and publishing market. In December 2006, Deseret Book Company purchased Seagull Book and Covenant Communications, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. This deal had some Utahns worried that the cheaper prices of Seagull Book would be raised to match those of Deseret Book’s, but the Tribune reported on December 30 that Seagull book would remain an independent company and continue to offer discount prices.

Deseret Book is known as a good place to find gifts, religious or otherwise. On October 4, 1946, the Davis County Clipper ran an ad saying, “Desert Book is the Gift Center.” The ad also mentioned university students frequenting the store to buy their textbooks. Over the years Desert Book has morphed from a purely religious retail store to one that offers just about anything.

Deseret Book picture 2

Photo by Chandley Chynoweth.

The Deseret Book Company recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. An article written by Trent Toone for the Deseret News on December 15, 2016, discussed the company’s best accomplishments and current goals. In the article the publishing of Jesus the Christ by Elder James E. Talmage and A Marvelous Work and Wonder by Elder LeGrand Richards were big milestones to establishing the Deseret Book Company. Jeff Simpson, president of Desert Book, said in the article, “We are not just a bookstore — we are a lifestyle store. Books are still a big part of what we do, but over the last decade movies, music, and books make up less than half of our sales.”

Desert Book Company started with one little store in Salt Lake City and has expanded to 45 different stores on the West Coast. It continues to provide the citizens of Utah with a place to find both religious and non-religious products.

Chandley Chynoweth graduated in December 2018 with a degree in strategic communication.


Steven Oberbeck, “Seagull Books will retain its niche as discount retailer, Deseret says,” Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 2006.

“ Teams Up With Deseret Book to Offer MP3 Books and Music,” PR Newswire, September 15, 2004.

“Deseret Book Is Gift Center,” Davis County Clipper, October 4, 1946, 6.

Advertisement, Deseret Book Company, Utah Chronicle, March 24, 1943, 6.

Advertisement, Deseret Book Company, Utah Chronicle, March 10, 1943, 4.

Advertisement, Deseret Book Company, Deseret News, November 2, 1865, 8.

About Desert Book Company,” Deseret Book Company.

Deseret Book,” Deseret Management Corporation.

Trent Toone, “While celebrating 150 years, Deseret Book continues to innovate for the future,” Deseret News, December 15, 2016.