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The Best Independent Bookstores in Sydney
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The Best Independent Bookstores in Sydney

Picture of Paris Donnatella Callan
Updated: 14 October 2017
Dotted across the suburbs of Sydney are some of the city’s finest bookstores. Crammed with books both old and new, collector’s editions, art and design magazines, LGBTI stories, fiction, poetry, chick-lit and classics — the offerings are endless. Here are our top must-visit bookstores for lovers of literature in Sydney.

Better Read Than Dead

Thriving in the heart of Newtown for nearly 20 years, this literary institution is a hub for creatives, book lovers, locals and tourists — pretty much just about anyone who fancies an ol’ chin wag in a warm, welcoming book-filled space. Better Read Than Dead offer a floor-to-ceiling selection of carefully curated books whilst also hosting a regular programme of author and community events.

Gertrude & Alice

Located just blocks from Bondi shore, this bookstore-cum-café boasts that perfect Aussie beach ambiance. It’s cool, chilled and does damn good coffee too. With a healthy café menu to keep hunger at bay, there is little reason to leave this bookstore. Browse at leisure, dip in and out of books and catch the summer breeze drifting up from the beach. Gertrude & Alice nails bookish beach bum vibes.

Gertrude & Alice Exterior
Gertrude & Alice Exterior | Courtesy of Gertrude & Alice

Desire Books & Records

Launched in 2002, Desire Books & Records has firmly established itself as the ultimate Beat beach-side books and blues store. After recently partnering with Pigeon Ground Records, Desire has become a haven of all things creative. Just moments from Manly beach, Desire not only houses a plethora of books from classic to modern lit, children’s, art, photography and philosophy (to name a few!), but it also hosts frequent gatherings, such as writer’s workshops, theater performances, tarot readings, live music and poetry readings.

The Bookshop Darlinghurst

Situated in a little store on Oxford Street only moments from the city, The Bookshop Darlinghurst is a very casual and friendly institution with books aplenty. For over 35 years it has been the leading source of literature, magazines and video for the LGBTI community. But, no matter your sexual preference, this bookshop truly has it all, from the latest Booker Prize winner to steamy erotica. Super-friendly staff with expert knowledge round off the experience, and there is even a loyalty club for avid readers who can’t help but keep coming back for more!

The Bookshop Darlinghurst Interior
The Bookshop Darlinghurst Interior | Courtesy of The Bookshop Darlinghurst

Beautiful Pages

Also located on the bustling Oxford Street, this store opened in 2011. It aims to engage and inspire through a carefully curated collection of books and magazines on art, interior design, architecture, graphic design and fashion, as well as offering a quirky selection of gifts, printed tees, posters and cards. Open daily, this contemporary bookstore offers an immersive approach and makes it oh-so-difficult to leave empty-handed. Additionally, Beautiful Pages’ online store offers free delivery on orders over $75, making it even easier to indulge from the comfort of a computer.

Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore

With over 30,000 used books for sale, this bookstore in Paddington does not disappoint. Steal a moment from the busy city outside and wander the aisles, picking out long-lost favorites, childhood classics or the newest fiction everyone is talking about; Ampersand is all about versatility. With a darling café-cum-library vibe, it’s easy to get comfortable here and see the hours fly by. Lounge in an armchair or sit at the communal table with other book lovers while enjoying some freshly baked cakes, a salad or a sandwich.

Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore Exterior
Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore Exterior | Courtesy of Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore

Elizabeth’s Bookshop

Since 1973, Elizabeth’s Bookshop has been at the forefront of quality secondhand book sales in Australia. As one of the largest sellers on the continent, Elizabeth’s Bookshop has expanded to four locations, still specialising in rare and out-of-print books as well as secondhand steals. Housing everything from sporting guides to graphic novels, erotic fiction to medicine, chances are it can be found here!

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