That sound when you reach heaven? That’s what you’ll hear when you enter Berkelouw Books, the three-storey Paddington shrine one of eight emporiums dedicated to new and rare books across New South Wales. Book nerds could spend days here, browsing latest releases, glossy coffee-table tomes, magazines and other papery goodness before sitting down to a coffee or wine – a welcoming way to spend a few hours before hitting up the Palace Verona cinema next door.
People are passionate about Better Read than Dead – so much so that Lonely Planet has called it Sydney’s favourite bookstore. You’ll understand why. The Newtown establishment has been running since 1996 and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge – and even more books – over that time. Boosting customer loyalty are a regular series of author talks and other events, so you can drop in, and geek out for hours.
Better Read Than Dead, Newtown - Credit: James Horan - Destination NSW
Tapas, jugs of sangria, poetry battles and open-mic nights – Sappho provides a lot of reasons to visit before you even get to the books. Of which there are plenty. This second-hand Glebe store has shelves holding more than 30,000 titles, jammed in across a rambling multi-storey building from the 1880s. The courtyard is where it’s at come coffee-o’clock or cocktail hour, your book purchases all the company you need.
The Sydney flagship of Australia’s largest independent retailer of books, music and film, TITLE sits inside a striking glass-walled building in waterside Barangaroo. You’ll find everything from classics like Dickens and Tolstoy to the latest page-turners, glossy coffee-table books covering fashion and architecture, and plenty of niche art titles. The extensive music selection spans multiple generations with many classic works on vinyl, and you can even pick up a new turntable or record player. Because why not?
Oscar & Friendshas established a loyal following since it opened its doors. Perhaps it’s the carefully curated collection and regular staff picks – perfect for when you’re not sure what to read next. Or maybe the pretty paper-driven knick-knacks, like cards, journals and pens. Browse the latest fiction releases; pick up books on health, art, fashion, photography and cooking; and then take the little readers to the extensive kids’ section. Local authors often drop by to sign copies of their books.
When you have more than three decades worth of experience curating a huge range of books, journals and periodicals, music and DVDs, it’s safe to say you know your stuff. Welcome to Gleebooks, a place where you can easily fall down a rabbit hole of intellectual, well, glee. As an added bonus, the space hosts an active lecture and book talks program, spotlighting both Australian and international writers over wine and cheese. Is there any other way?
There are some books that you just can’t bear to part with – those that are sentimental, are hard to find, are the best read you’ve ever had. This is what you can expect to find stocked on the shelves here, an Aladdin’s Cave of rare and vintage books. They cover all topics – military, history, travel, art and architecture – but the owners have a particularly covetable collection of obscure children’s titles.
Love Vintage Books, Willoughby
Where: Sydney CBD
This book emporium is not for the indecisive; there are tens of thousands of tomes in all manner of languages – English, Japanese, French, German, Chinese – and of all persuasions. And then there’s the mind-boggling selection of magazines and stationery plus an art space and even a gallery, showcasing works from local and international up-and-coming artists. Whatever you purchase, sit down and enjoy a read of the first few pages in the on-site cafe.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.