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Books at Better Read Than Dead
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

By Tamar Cranswick and Divya Venkataraman

There are few greater pleasures in life than getting lost in a really good book. But what happens when you're running low? But at the moment, you can't exactly cram into cozy bookstores and wander through shelves to your heart's content. So we've put together a list of the best bookshops in Sydney – and whether they'll deliver juicy reading material straight to your doorstep. In these uncertain times, let's not underestimate the quiet power of a book to take you to imagined worlds. 

Looking to splash some more cash? Shop fresh-cut blooms all year round at our favourite flower shops or find a hidden gem from yesteryear with the best op shops in Sydney.  

Book shops in Sydney

Interior at Berkelouw Books
Photograph: Daniel Boud

1. Berkelouw Books - Paddington

Shopping 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.

2. Gleebooks

Shopping 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.

Outside at Title Book Store Barangaroo
Photograph: Supplied

3. Title Barangaroo

Shopping 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. 

4. Bookoccino

Shopping 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. 

Various homewares at Published Art
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

5. Published Art

Shopping Surry Hills

Home delivery? Yep! Their online store is packed with fascinating, left-of-field reads. 

It's a browser's paradise. This Mary Street design-focussed outfit specialises in art, architecture, fashion, design, typography and photography covers. They stock titles from the best international publishers and they like to rotate those titles frequently.

Books at Better Read Than Dead
Photograph: Mitch Lui

6. Better Read Than Dead

Shopping Newtown

Home delivery? Most definitely. 
This beautifully appointed biblio hub in Newtown attracts a steady stream of locals from morning till night. The downstairs area houses all the latest fiction and has an excellent children's section for mini readers. Head one level up, and you'll come to cookery, gardening and other ephemera, while the third level contains some impressive artworks on loan from the Corrigan Collection. Book club meetings are hosted in store and kids can get in on the action too, with meetings for ages 7-12 as well as young adults. For adults, our top pick is the ‘Bad Women Book Club’, which explores the ‘difficult’ women of literature.


7. Desire Books & Records

Shopping 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.

Tom Hespe (left) and Tamara Kennedy (right) standing in their Potts Point book, vintage and record store in Potts Point
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

8. Grand Days

Shopping 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. 

Interior at Gertrude and Alice
Photograph: Nikki Malavar

9. Gertrude & Alice

Shopping 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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Give your house a makeover

Colourful ceramics stacked up on a wooden display
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best homewares shops in Sydney

Shopping Homewares

Make that tiny city apartment feel like home with smart functional designs from one of these top design and interiors stores, or go all-out and fill your new beach house with Australian-made furniture or globally sourced homewares.


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