If you’re an avid reader like myself, you may have wondered where all the good bookshops have gone. Just as vinyl records, VHS tapes and dial-up Internet have all been replaced with high-tech digital equivalents, it seems that books have also become a casualty of the 21st century.A side effect of this evolutionary progression – from printed paper to digital downloads – is the abandonment of the good old dusty bookstores that used to house the words of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers and creators.
However, if you dig deep enough, you can still find some little gems hidden within our cities, just waiting for you to discover them. These little slices of literature heaven are keeping the tradition of print publication well and truly alive, and their curators have lovingly added their own special touches. No matter how tech savvy we get in this world, I still crave and desire to wander a bookshop with shelves crammed with masterpieces for me to discover, to cherish, and to lose myself in.
Here are six of the best bookstores in Australia to discover, before they disappear.
Avid Reader, Brisbane
Residing in Brisbane’s trendy West End, Avid Reader’s philosophy is to create a “third place” within their community where people can meet, learn, share stimulate and discuss ideas, while embracing storytelling across all mediums.
With an impressive collection of new bestsellers, classics, CDs and DVDs, you’re sure to find your next great read on the shelves of this little Brisbane boho gem, which also has a small gallery space for local artists to display and sell their work.
The staff are uber friendly; the onsite café serves some of the best coffee in the city; and there are always book signings, readings, launches, and book clubs to entice any hardcore lover of literature.
You’ll find them at: 193 Boundary Street, West End, Brisbane, QLD
Hours: Monday-Friday 8.30am-8.30pm; Saturday 8.30am-6.00pm; Sunday 8.30am-5.00pm. Cafe open seven days 8.30am-4.00pm
The Dust Jacket, Inverell
Perfectly located in the heritage listed Pastoral Chambers of Inverell, you’ll find The Dust Jacket for Books, a self-proclaimed “Aladdin’s Cave” of literary treasures just waiting to be discovered.
Tastefully decorated with vintage furniture, you could be forgiven for losing several hours of your life wandering the vibrant rooms crammed with bookshelves and couches. This is a space that welcomes you in like a warm hug from your mother, and then asks you to stay for a cuppa (which you can totally do by visiting the adjacent café).
You’ll find them at: 44 Byron Street, Inverell, NSW
Hours: Monday-Friday 9.00am-5.00pm; Saturday 9.00am-2.00pm; Sunday closed.
Better Read Than Dead, Sydney
After almost twenty years of peddling published goods to the trendy Newtown masses, Better Read has definitely earned the title of the (hipster) granddaddy of bookstores.
This vibrant, eclectic store in one of Sydney’s coolest neighbourhoods is a reader’s heaven with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, contemporary and bright design, and a sky-lit mezzanine level.
A self-confessed ‘literary landmark’ and Lonely Planet’s official ‘Favourite Sydney Bookshop’, Better Read Than Dead is always on my list of places to visit when I’m in Sydney. It’s a place where readers feel like rockstars. Get there.
You’ll find them at: 265 King Street, Newtown, Sydney, NSW.
Hours: Sunday- Thursday 9.30am-9.00pm; Friday – Saturday 9.30am-10.00pm. Cafe open seven days 8.30am-4.00pm
Berkelouw Book Barn & Cafe, Eumundi
Nestled among the stunning greenery of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, gently tucked inside the historic Eumundi Trading Post building, you’ll find Berkelouw Book Barn and Café; a quaint, bespoke bookshop with bucket loads of old-school country charm.
Packed (literally) to the rafters with over 100,000 secondhand books from all over the world – spanning across all genres and hundreds of subjects – and a housing a treasure trove of rare, specialty and early out-of-print titles, this is the quintessential bookstore you’ve been searching for.
You’ll find them at: 87 Memorial Drive, Eumundi, Sunshine Coast, QLD.
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9.00am – 5.00pm. Opens at 7.30 a.m. on market days: Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Boffins Bookshop, Perth
First off, you gotta love any bookstore that names itself after a colloquial term for “someone who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable in any pursuit”. It tells you exactly what you’re in for when you visit Western Australia’s Best Specialist Bookseller; these people L-O-V-E the printed word. And their enthusiasm is infectious.
Whilst you’ll find the well-known works of major publishers adorning the shelves of Boffins, you’ll also discover a range of niche publications from smaller book specialists, those one-of-a-kind editions that you won’t find anywhere else. And if there’s a title you’re chasing but can’t find? Then these are the people who will track it down for you.
You’ll find them at: 88 William Street, Perth, WA.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9.00am-6.00pm; Friday 9.00am-9.00pm; Saturday 9.00am-5.00pm; Sunday 11.00am-5.00pm.
Embiggen Books, Melbourne
This is a bookstore that certainly lives up to its name…and your expectations. Inspired by the great libraries of the world and encapsulating the charm of yesteryear literature in a modern space, Embiggen Books is THE bookstore for today’s intellectual.
Purposefully curated and conscientiously tended by owners Kirsty and Warren, this stunning slice of scholarly bliss arrests your senses with its dark wood panels, polished concrete floors, miner’s lights glowing dimly, and antique book ladders. All that is missing is a sherry decanter and a grand fireplace.
This inviting, yet austere, space is home to the largest science collection in Australia and the fourth largest in the world. Although there is a small section devoted to fictional novels, the focus of Embiggen is not to hawk best sellers, but rather to stoke the intellectual fires of Melbourne’s bibliophiles.
You’ll find them at: 197-203 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC.
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 10:30am-6:30pm; Thursday-Friday 10:30am-7:00pm; Saturday-Sunday 10:30am to 5:00pm.
Featured image by fotologic