In my introductory bio on this page, I describe myself as liking to find and explore quirky things. Well, finding the Book Merchant Jenkins definitely falls under that category Brought to you by the team at Logical Unsanity Books and Miscellaneous Phantasmagoria, in Bardon, the Book Merchant Jenkins is their latest open to the public, retail bookshop. It is the keeper of books - both old and new..
The Book Merchant Jenkins occupies a former church hall in Dornoch Terrace at Highgate Hill. I was greeted by an open bookcase on the curbside which gave a taste of things to come.
Step inside and you will be overjoyed by the vast collection of books- some of which are rare and unusual. The space is one level and is largely an open floor plan. (There is a sneaky back room with a small collection of you guessed it, books). The original wooden floorboards have been retained as have the gentile, scarlet red and ocean blue coloured glass lead lights.
It's pretty relaxed. A comfy chair sits along the right-hand wall and an old, vintage desk where visitors are welcome to sit and read for as long as they want. So, as well as being a bookseller it has an old-school, library-like feel as well. It's also easy to imagine Sunday school and significant community gatherings of the past having been held in this room.
Photo courtesy The Book Merchant Jenkins facebook page
What books did I find? The collection includes books from a range of genres - history, art, fiction, food, young readers etc. An Agatha Christie mystery rested comfortably beside Postcards from New York and an obligatory book by Brisbane author, Nick Earls.
Above the counter, I noticed a collection of Queensland Statutes and encyclopaedia which give an insight into the reliance on hardcover reference material before the advent of the internet.
The shop is currently planning to hold literary events in the future but already has a point of difference. A visual artist, Laing Rahner, has taken up residence in the shop where visitors can be lucky to watch him at work while they browse the bookshelves. In fact, there are several original pieces floating around the shop.
Who is the Book Merchant Jenkins? The title of the shop is indeed curious like many of the books it stocks. It left me wondering whether who is the book merchant Jenkins? I questioned whether it pays homage to John Holmes Jenkins III (1940–1989) an American historian, antiquarian bookseller, publisher, and poker player.
As a career, John Holmes Jenkins III chose the publishing and rare book business. From 1963, the Pemberton Press and the Jenkins Publishing Company published over 300 books and won numerous state and national awards, with an international reputation for high scholarship.
But beyond that, Jenkins was instrumental in 1971 in recovering some stolen books and national art treasures and was cited by the F.B.I. on the floor of Congress for bravery. On April 16, 1989, he was killed in sudden and tragic circumstances when he was found shot in the back of the head – a case that the police concluded was suicide. Hmmm
Is he the Book Merchant Jenkins? Only the store owners know the answer and finding out makes this alone worth a visit.