Newtown is a suburb primarily characterised by its trendy, hipster locals. Most people who frequent the streets of Newtown are searching for the perfect cappuccino or the ideal vintage outfit, but occasionally, one scuttling pedestrian will be in search of an even more coveted treasure: the perfect second-hand book.
It is a strange sort of yearning, the desire to touch history through the pages of a book. For some, the appeal is not so much age as it is the reduced price-tag accompanying the contemporary, but pre-loved book. For others, the search for second-hand books is about the quest for a hidden gem: a rarity, an obscure text hidden at the bottom of a high stack. Regardless of the motive,
One of the most famous, if haphazard, locations for the literary aficionado is undoubtedly Gould's Book Arcade. Gould's is a large, cavernous room, full to the brim of coveted second-hand books. The major challenge, however, is sorting through the wreckage in order to find one such title. With no discernible alphabetisation, the tomes are stacked in various thematic sections. Nonetheless, the assistants and the owner are on-hand to offer advice and what I can only assume are locating spells. Open seven days per week, and open until the later hours, Gould's is a King Street mainstay, and a vital port-of-call for a second-hand book-hunter.
There are, however, various other options for a Newtownian determined to find an appealing musty publication. Elizabeth's Bookshop is another King Street institution. While Gould's may offer an aircraft-hanger full of titles on every topic conceivable, Elizabeth's is more specialised, providing titles in Art, Photography, Philosophy, Religion, History, and Modern Literature and Criticism. While Elizabeth's in Newtown is merely one in a chain of Elizabeth's bookshops around Australia, there is not even the hint of a chain-store about the book exchange tables. Like Gould's, Elizabeth's is aware that the quest for a second-hand book continues outside of office hours, and as a result, the shop is open every day from 9.30am until "very" late.
With these large retailers, along with a smattering of dusty shelves in the more hidden corners of the various bookstores that line King Street, there is ample choice for anyone on the quest for a second-hand book.