There is something about a second-hand book – the smell, the character, the acquired charm – something that gives it a simple distinction.
Located on 678 Swanston Street, Carlton Secondhand Books is a cosy and quaint two-storey book shops filled with literary fulfilment. Stepping across the threshold of the building fills the senses immediately: the slight mothball smell that comes with age; the calmness in the atmosphere; the history embedded within the walls of the building itself and the books it shelves. Walking up the creaky and winding staircase has a reminiscent feel from a literary novel from the 1800s, one likely to be found amongst the shelves.
The books themselves are easy to identify as they are categorised in a neat way. Each room in the building has a section with a clear title to indicate what books are in there. The shelves are then alphabetised by the author's surname. The categories are endless, including Australian fiction, medieval fiction, cooking books, popular romance, scientific non-fiction, and many more.
The staff members provide assistance when required if the mind is lost and distracted in the literary maze and are more than helpful to share their knowledge about different books. There are many positives to buying books second-hand beyond the character they possess. One of these is of course cost. The books in this store are at least half price of regular retail price, sometimes up to seventy five per cent off the original cost. This is no indication of the quality of the books. There may be a few dog-eared pages and some creases on the cover, but in reality that all adds to the personality of the books (and let's face it, those things are bound to happen to books even if you pay full price).
This is a fantastic little hide away for all lovers of literature. Bring the family along as there are plenty of kids' books, and no doubt mum or dad will find something they want to read somewhere on the shelves. Keep this place in mind for university students, particularly as it's located a short walk from Melbourne University and a tram ride from RMIT. Students know how ridiculous fees can get for books, so especially if you're studying English or Literature this place is worth a look.
In a world where the paper page is in danger of extinction, Carlton Secondhand Books serves as a positive reminder of the charm of books. Don't deny yourself the opportunity to hold a book in your hands and feel that satisfaction of turning the page to feed your imagination.