Looking for the best bookshops in Australia? We’ve found them.
Great bookshops entice pedestrians with an eclectic personality and an air of curiosity.
They don’t have to be large, nor do they have to be modern; all a bookstore really needs is a unique selection and well-versed staff.
Good bookshops curate the right mix of stories for their attentive visitors, unlike the larger chains which simply sell the most popular stories. And the best booksellers reveal their inner-style through the world they inhabit, and through the booksellers that loiter around the cash register.
Whether you’re looking for an independent bookstore or Australia’s largest bookshop, these literary havens will have you intrigued for hours. Keep reading for 21 of Australia’s best bookshops
Collect your bookmarks and let’s go.
New South Wales
Nestled up above in The Galeries along George Street in Sydney’s CBD is Kinokuniya. The Japanese influence is seen through their vast range of manga comics and selection of Japanese authors, but they also sell a wide variety of stories that span the globe. Kinokuniya is just like a Japanese version of Dymocks made for Sydneysiders.
Better Read Than Dead
As well as having a quirky name, Better Read Than Dead also shares a quaint selection of books. Their towering bookshelves house a collection that would make the curious novel-reader inquisitive. As you side-step along the walls with your head coursing up and down, make sure to stop and read the recommendation tags.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is just another standard bookselling enterprise, but Abbey’s Bookshop houses one of the best selections of sci-fi and fantasy novels in Sydney which takes up nearly the whole second floor of the building – something that is eagerly awaiting your presence. The ground level houses everything else, from fiction to nonfiction.
It’s 90-years-old and still going strong, thanks to the community-oriented approach Fullers Bookshop has taken. Get a touch of local talent mixed in with literary gods as you sip on a latte from the in-house cafe. Feel free to ask the knowledgeable shop staff for recommendations.
The Book Cellar
They say that you can’t rewrite history, but you can certainly read it here! In between Hobart and Launceston is Campbell Town, a locale filled with plenty of convict history. But, it contains what is arguably the best small-size bookshop in Tasmania: The Book Cellar. Situated in a convict-built coaching inn, this quaint bookstore shares more than just great books.
Named after the Italian poet Petrarca, Petrarch’s Bookshop is Launceston’s top spot for book shopping. Whether you’re looking for a new popular novel, an old classic in hardcover or even some local inspiration, Petrarch’s should be top of your mind.
There are two types of bookshops these days: “nicely filled” and “completely filled”. The Paperback Bookshop is the latter, with every nook and cranny accounted for. When you consider its tiny size, you won’t blame them though. Step inside for a fabulous time-killer or to simply breathe in the smell of old and new books.
If you’re looking for paradise, you won’t find it in Melbourne’s CBD. The Paradise Bookshop can be found in Daylesford, about 90-kilometres north-west of the Melbourne city circle. A paradise to say the least, their bookshelves feature the new and old commingled in harmony and teeming with life. Happy hunting!
If you continue driving in a northerly direction from Daylesford, chances are you’ll stop in Bendigo. If you do, treat yourself with a visit to Book Mark, one of Victoria’s best second-hand bookstores. It’s laden with all sorts of used books and is always ready for a gander. Because who doesn’t love finding a hidden second-hand treasure?
Imprints Booksellers have a vast knowledge of books, with a sixth sense for what makes their regular clientele tick. But it’s their store interior that stretches the lips and gleams the eyes. Sky blue walls hover above the vibrant brown shelves, welcoming in the curious reader with little effort.
Reading a new book is great, but nothing beats picking up a book that has already been read. O’Connell’s Bookshop specialises in old books, and it’s a must-visit for anyone who loves the smell and touch of pre-loved volumes of lore or the odd narrative. A few hours browsing can’t hurt, right?
As we all know, the best bookshops in Australia are the ones that take their time getting to know what their customers love. Matilda Bookshop is no different. Whether you want to immerse yourself in a fantasy world or scrutinise the real world, you’ll find your way here. All you have to do is ask.
Boffins Books is an eclectic mix of titles, colours and literary fanatics. The staff members are filled with novel ideas and knowledge, while the surrounding layout is both modern and a little mysterious. Whether you’re looking to explore locally, internationally or otherworldly, you’ll find it here.
Planet Books refuses to conform to the standard bookshop ideal. They aim for quirky and odd. They strive to challenge you with a slightly left-wing agenda. And they’re also open late most nights, which makes for a perfect getaway in the evening. Also, there are two Planet Books stores in Perth. Your choice, dear reader.
Elizabeth’s Bookshop has blossomed into a much-loved entity during their 40-year reign. Even Sydney’s in on the action with their own Elizabeth Bookshop franchise. Their selection ranges between the popular, the slightly odd and the tongue-in-cheek. If you’re unsure, surprise yourself with a pre-wrapped blind date book.
Caryota Book Exchange
The owner of Caryota Book Exchange proudly boasts that they have more books than the local library, so this is your go-to destination if you’ve landed in Darwin. They even have a few hideaway spots throughout the store and a courtyard for you to read, relax and sip on a cool beverage.
Nothing says “humble” and “unfussy” like a bookshop with a simple name – and these guys really are those two things. Buying a book is always better than borrowing, as you can gift it or give it away to someone else once you’re finished with it. Two birds, one stone! Keep an eye out for local authors for a truly unique touch.
Red Kangaroo Books
Hard copy books are so popular that even the centre of Australia sells them. Whether you live in Alice Springs or are stopping by, make sure to visit Red Kangaroo Books which sell a well-chosen selection of local authors and stories. It’s also one of the best ranges of Indigenous literature and ethos.
Are you an avid reader? If so, then don’t miss this store. At Avid Reader, you’ll find great modern fiction novels and nonfiction texts. They also host a range of book clubs, from young at heart to bloody crime, as well as a special section for kids aptly called Where The Wild Things Are.
Brisbane is nice, but not all of us live there. So if you’re anywhere near Townsville then check out the Mary Who? Bookshop. It is a winner of best regional store by Australian Independent Bookseller in 2011, and it’s still going strong. As well as an amazing array of books, visitors should buy their chocolate too.
Archives Fine Books
Archives Fine Books proudly boasts about having one million books on every topic, which means this place is huge. If you’re looking for collectables or that really hard-to-find author, this is your best bet. They also sell art and antiquarian books and all the famous classics in hardcover.
Not satisfied yet? We’ve got plenty more articles for all the Australian bookworms out there. If you’re feeling thirsty, why not check out our list of the top 10 bookstore cafes across the country. Perhaps you’re wondering what to buy? We’ve already done the hard work for you with our top 10 Australian books to add to your reading list this year, or if you’re looking for a classic, you’ll find those books that you’ve been meaning to read here.