We’ve all had that moment when we’ve forgotten to pick up a birthday card for our dear aunt (sorry, Janice), or when we’ve run out of reading material for the tram. Luckily, there’s the humble newsagency and bookshop – and these local heroes won’t turn you away if you’re paying on card, no matter how small the purchase.
Words: Petra Starke
Adelaide's Pop Up Bookshop has popped up permanently at the Central Market, selling its eclectic range of hard-to-find titles alongside the fruit and veg. Books are displayed on jumble sale furniture, like on an antique writing desk, in an old china cabinet and even on a converted piano, with everything from 1920s art books to Tintin comics, French language books and early encyclopaedias. Rarities and first editions are what they do best; you'll find a first edition of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for $1,950, a first edition of Roald Dahl's The Twits for $250, and even retro toys like a 1950s Magic Robot game.
If you didn't get the picture from the recycled 1970s coffee cup chandelier, there are a few other indicators that Booknook and Bean isn't your typical bookshop. Firstly there's the espresso machine, churning out cups of joe from beans by Port Elliot "bespoke roaster" De Groot Coffee Co. Then there's the glass cabinet full of treats by cult local patissiers Sweet Lola Desserts, Four Seeds and Sweet Nectar. But mostly it's the giant sign urging you to "alleviate poverty one book at a time": take a pre-loved book from the shelf, drop a donation in the "honesty box" (they recommend $2 to $10) and feel a warm glow knowing your money is going to microloan charity Kiva.
Ask any Adelaide book lover their favourite place and more likely than not you'll hear just one word: "Imprints". A haven of serenity amongst the tattoo shops, shisha bars and strip clubs of Hindley Street for more than 30 years, Imprints offers new and second-hand books in categories from history, psychology and philosophy to travel, art and theatre, including play scripts. Books are displayed temptingly on polished wood bookcases against emu egg-coloured walls, the polished floorboards and Persian floor runners giving the place a stately vibe. They don't do knick-knacks. They don't do espresso or pastries. They do books, and they do them well.
It's a good indicator of how much this cosy second-hand bookshop is loved by locals that when it came close to shutting down a few months ago someone slipped an anonymous $10,000 cheque under the door.Thanks to her mysterious benefactor owner Anne Tichborne will be able to keep Maisie's open for at least another 12 months, good news for lovers of vintage and collectable books (her 1950s Enid Blyton titles are always big sellers), reproduction mechanical wind-up toys and retro jigsaw puzzles. Tichborne checks her prices against online and e-book rates too, so you'll never pay more than new, and you can sell or trade your book in when you've finished.
Nestled on the leafy tree-lined main street of one of the Adelaide Hills' prettiest villages, this independent bookshop has been a favourite with locals and city slickers for more than three decades. It's cosy and welcoming, with new books of all genres from gardening and cooking to crime novels, film and Australian history arranged on old tables and polished wooden bookcases. The children's section is dressed up with bunting and fairy lights, making it a special experience for the littlies too. Frequent book signings and meet-the-author events are a major drawcard, and the free gift wrapping is a nice bonus.
A café, a gift emporium and book shop, Mockingbird Lounge is a cosy neighbourhood destination for book lovers to meet, eat, shop and read. The books are all second hand but owner Stacey Young is famously picky about what she sells, so they're all in practically new condition. There are locally made gifts too: soy candles by Etikette ADL, cute food-inspired jewellery by Picnic for Tea, and fuzzy toys by Fleeci. Featuring three reading rooms with crowded bookshelves and mismatched dining tables complete with posies in vases, it's a bit like hanging out at your nanna's house – if your nanna was a book hoarder. Plus, the first Friday of every month is "wine night".
Located in one of Adelaide's most fashionable suburbs, where yummy mummies jog with designer prams and spray-tanned teens nosh on organic quinoa in vegan-friendly cafés, this neighbourhood newsagency offers a wide range of magazines, cards and stationery, lots of last-minute gift items and good old-fashioned service. Need a back issue? Just ask and they'll order it in: hard-to-find titles such as Tank, Peppermint and Rollacoaster and cult zines like Bread Wine & Thou, Lunch Lady and Geist fashion annual. For added convenience they have a BASS ticket outlet and X-Lotto counter.