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Photograph: Mitch Lui

The best bookshops in Sydney

Whether you’re on the hunt for a classic or something straight off the press, we’ve got your (paper)back

Written by
Tamar Cranswick
Divya Venkataraman
Maya Skidmore

There are few greater pleasures in life than getting lost in a really good book. We've put together a list of the best bookshops in Sydney that offer up a vibey day of wholesome literary fun, but will deliver juicy reading material straight to your doorstep. What's better than that?

Still curious? How about reading one of these 12 best books about Sydney.

Book shops in Sydney

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  • Paddington

Home delivery? Yes! Shipping costs vary based on your distance from an outlet, and the weight of the books purchased.

Oxford Street has undergone a lot of upheaval in recent years, but Berkelouw has remained a fixture. The three-level emporium next door to Verona Cinemas has been keeping bookish types happy for over two decades. Downstairs you'll find new books, magazines, curios and gifts. Upstairs, there's a sizeable collection of secondhand titles covering fiction, art, culture and history. The café looks out over Oxford Street, where you can count on the steady hum of low voices and the pitter-patter of keyboards crafting something special. It's the perfect place to hunker down and watch the world go by with a coffee or a glass of wine.

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  • Glebe

Home delivery? Yes. 

The family-run Gleebooks have been in the book business for over 40 years, and it's fair to say they know their Descartes from their Dahl. We love the original – the secondhand shop just down the road – and the dainty Dulwich Hill outlet, but our heart belongs to number 49. This split-level space services everyone from uni students looking for the latest political tome to picky toddlers (and their parents) on the hunt for Dr Suess. Talks are hosted throughout the week and feature an impressive roll call of authors and public figures spruiking their new books and debating the issues of the day.

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  • Book stores
  • Darling Harbour

Home delivery? Yes! We've even heard reports that they'll walk a book over to you if you're in the Surry Hills area (where Title's other outlet is). 

Housed in a modern, glass-walled building on the streets of Barangaroo, Title is the third store of its kind in Sydney. It prides itself on an eclectic collection of fiction, poetry, vinyl specialist coffee-table books and independent films. Here for the music? Head to the far left of the store, by the back. New, retro and certified classics mingle together in an A-to-Z catalogue that spans Kendrick Lamar to Triple J faves First Aid Kit. It’s a store where you’re guaranteed to find what you were looking for – even if you didn’t know you were looking. 

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  • Avalon Beach

Home delivery? Most definitely.
Yep, you guessed it. Coffee and books are the main drawcards at this Avalon hideaway, where you can while away the day with a brew and a good read. Check out their website for their full calendar of books and politics-centred events – you'll be spoiled for choice. 

Desire Books & Records
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  • Manly

Home delivery? Unfortunately not. But note this one down for a perfect post-social distancing Saturday morning browse. 

This a store for biblio and audiophiles alike, selling secondhand books as well as vintage vinyl from the good people at Pigeon Ground Records. There are retro touches throughout: Scrabble letters for signage, a vintage typewriter and handmade patches with quotes like "what would Nietzsche do?”. Rather than the usual latest releases, staff recommendations are an eclectic mix of classics and oddities to encourage reading off the beaten track. Desire is all about supporting local writers and creatives – there’s monthly open mic nights and a ‘Writers Rumble’ where pen smiths can workshop their writing.

The Bookshop Darlinghurst
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  • Darlinghurst

Home delivery? Absolutley.

From hunky bear calendars featuring a furry fella for each month, through to saucy lesbian erotica, The Bookshop Darlinghurst, in err, Darlinghurst, has been stocking its shelves with some of the sexiest queer literature available in our fair city. Aside from stocking a steamy array of books, The Bookshop does a great porn section that has proved to be a popular cruising zone with queer bookworms and regular fans of titles such as Inches and Honcho alike.

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  • Book stores
  • Woolloomooloo

Home delivery? Yes! 

What was once Bugden’s Bookshop is now a secondhand books, vinyl records and vintage fashion boutique where each item is unique and all of it is lovingly curated. Whether you’re a crate digger, bibliophile, or fashion fiend, Grand Days is a store where you’ll want to spend time exploring the shelves. There’s aslo a charming room devoted to music, spanning rock, pop, funk, disco and folk. 

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  • Bondi Beach

Home delivery? On an ad hoc basis, yes. Ring them up if you're in the Bondi area and if they've got your book in stock, they'll swing by and deliver it to you. 

Entering Gertrude and Alice is like stepping inside a good friend’s house – a friend with an insatiable appetite for books. This cosy bookshop-cum-café is full to the brim with new and secondhand titles; all jumbled together, piled high to the ceiling and stacked along the walls. Bondi’s not known for its thriftiness, but if you’re willing to do a little digging you can find a bargain here. Tuck into a text or put your writer's hat on at one of the communal tables and while away the hours over a cuppa. Literary doggos even have their own Gertrude and Alice hashtag on Insta. We always suspected they could read.

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  • Glebe
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Home delivery? Yes, on rare and collectible items. Shipping costs will depend on the weight of the books you're ordering. 

Sappho is like a somewhat dishevelled, oddball uncle who you love in spite of – or maybe because of – their eccentricity. The converted terrace house in on Glebe Point Road is packed to the rafters with secondhand books. Downstairs you’ll find a treasure trove of fiction, from Amis to Zelazny. Wend your way up the stairs, and you'll come to books on history and culture. Venture further up again to a room dedicated to solely to secondhand music books and sheet music. When you’ve finished foraging, settle in in Sappho's courtyard café with a book in hand. There are open mic nights and poetry readings here on alternate Tuesdays. Would be Byrons, beware: there’s a two-minute time limit for readings, so keep it snappy.


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