Back of Beyond publishes special edition book as part of store’s 25th anniversary celebration

A lot has changed in Moab in the last 25 years. The town has grown, as an ever-increasing number of people, hotels and restaurants have made Moab home.

But since Back of Beyond Books opened its doors in 1990, one thing hasn’t changed: the current and previous owners’ love for books, both old and new.

Andy Nettell, who has owned Back of Beyond since 2005, said the idea for the store was conceived during a memorial service for renowned author and conservationist Edward Abbey.

“The whole store was so closely aligned with Edward Abbey and his memorial service,” Nettell said.

Earlier this month, Nettell announced that Back of Beyond has published a book, “Dead Horses and Sakred Kows,” which is “a facsimile of one of [Edward Abbey’s] most famous speeches,” Nettell said.

The speech, presented at the University of Montana in 1985, lambasted the cattle industry, he said.

Nettell said he was able to get a transcript of the speech from Abbey’s family, who gave permission for the bookstore to create the print edition.

“They allowed us to copy it,” he said. “We put out a really beautiful edition.”

Nettell produced 25 copies in honor of the bookstore’s 25th anniversary.

The bookstore’s name is taken from “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” one of Abbey’s most popular titles.

“His character Seldom Seen Smith was an outfitter, and the name of his company — and hideout — was ‘Back of Beyond,’” according to the store’s website, www.backofbeyond books.com.

In February, Back of Beyond celebrated its 25th year of selling books in Moab, and Nettell has held a series of other events throughout the year.

“I figured rather than one big to-do, we’d spread the event out over the year as I felt appropriate,” Nettell said.

Because of the store’s historic connection to Abbey, many of the anniversary events focused on him, including a book signing with Sean Prentiss, the author of “Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave.”

This week, river historian Tom Martin will give a presentation on the book, “From Powell to Power — A Recounting of the First One Hundred River Runners through the Grand Canyon,” written by Otis Reed “Dock” Marston and edited by Martin. He will also read from the book during the event on Sept. 18, at 7 p.m.

Back of Beyond has also printed a special-edition t-shirt commemorating its anniversary, and Nettell released a 25th anniversary edition of the store’s rare book catalog.

“We’re selling more and more rare books,” Nettell said. “The catalog came out beautifully.”

ByBy Laura Haley

Contributing Writer