Wellington is a city that truly embraces all things culture. Bookstores are very much a part of this equation, and each independent retailer you’ll stumble across will have something unique to share. To give you an idea, here are 8 cool bookshops that are ready to please all literary tastes and affinities.
An industry leader and local institution, Unity Books Wellington was set up in 1967 by sportsman, philosopher and bibliophile Alan Preston. The Willis Street bookshop is always buzzing with the best books from New Zealand and around the world. It is also the home to several launches, readings, seminars and an all-round dynamic events calendar. Unity Books also has a sister shop in Auckland, which was opened in the 1980s.
Since opening its doors in 1988, Arty Bees has grown to become one of Wellington’s largest pre-loved, antiquarian, and rare books retailers. Science fiction and fantasy fans will marvel at the variety of titles lining this bookstore’s shelves, and there are plenty of New Zealand works to discover as well. As a bonus, they are usually opened until 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights – ideal for those scouring through for some bedtime reading. Arty Bees is a family-run operation which continues to adapt and evolve every single year – an online catalogue is among one of their recent additions.
From humble beginnings as a single book stand at the waterfront markets, to becoming a fully-fledged independent retailer – it’s fair to say that, in a little over a decade, Pegasus Books has made a remarkable transition. True to its name, this is the place to visit if you’re looking for quality reads spanning an array of classical topics; including mythology, philosophy, poetry, Greek and Roman classics, as well as cultural wonders focusing on arts, music, architecture, and design.
Book Haven is famous for holding New Zealand’s largest online collection of secondhand literature. Those who prefer to scan the shop’s plentiful shelves will not be disappointed, either – you’ve got your pick of wall-to-wall titles, fiction to non-fiction, right at your fingertips. Because 90% of their books are stocked off premises, customers can also request any title from the online catalogue to be picked up in store.
“Poke your nose in”, beckons the shop sign for the curious Ferret Bookshop. The store has been serving up a treasure trove of rare literary finds, pre-loved masterpieces, and underrated classics since the 1970s. Proud of their pre-digital age origins, this independent trader is a must-visit for those who truly cherish the timelessness of all things bookish and creative.
The Children’s Bookshop is a specialist retailer with a true community feel. Every Friday morning the bookshop comes alive with its preschool story time sessions. Children’s book launches are a regular fanfare, and the store’s owners, John and Ruth McIntyre, are very much on-demand guest speakers at various conferences and schools across the country. The Children’s Bookshop has been around since 1992, and has moved three times since – always in the same mall, but to a bigger location.
Here’s something for arts and crafts lovers. Minerva is a quiet sanctuary of books and magazines about fashion, textiles, crafts, quilting, illustration, and interior design. Stationery, an assortment of gifts, and lovely hand-dyed threads also feature in this niche independent bookstore. Everything has been thoughtfully selected and laid out to please all creatives that enter Minerva’s doors.
Pinnacle Books has been bringing a hint of zen to Wellington book lovers since 1996. Hollistic healing books, tarot card sets, mythological titles, science, spirituality, nutrition… their collections are quite eclectic, though emphasis is given to pieces that are deemed to be good for the body, mind and soul. These curious, but always top quality titles have paved the way for this specialist retailer to become a favourite among open-minded readers looking for something new and interesting.