From the outside, Sindbad Books in Carnegie looks like any other second-hand book store. A faded blue sign and a few trestle tables of paperbacks do no justice to the bibliophilic cornucopia inside the store.
Sindbad contains mountains of books on a multitude of subjects. There is a sizeable fiction collection, as well as plenty of non-fiction titles on niche subjects. The shop bears little resemblance to the book sections of op shops, with countless bizarre special-interest books.
The walls are lined with tall shelves, each stacked with hundreds of titles. The shelves are not enough to contain the extensive collection, with piles of books set up on every surface. Despite the book shop resembling a hoarder's house, when you look closely, it is quite organised. There is an order to the chaos, with each section of shelf carefully labelled with a genre.
The shelves at Sindbad Books contain mainstream fiction as well as books on niche subjects.
The prices at Sindbad are extremely reasonable. Second-hand bookshops in trendier suburbs often apply hefty price tags to their books. You buy for the experience, not for value, particularly when the same titles are available cheaper online. However, Sindbad tends towards being cheap. I bought Janet McCalman's Struggletown and Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions for $20 combined. Putting these books through Booko, a price comparison site which dredges up the cheapest new and used copies of books available online, the current lowest price for these two titles together is about $35.
You could easily lose hours in Sindbad, browsing the shelves for books you have never before encountered. The sense of discovery you feel is heightened by the atmosphere of the store. The owner leaves you to your own devices as you explore the collection, only to reappear when it is time to pay.
Sindbad Books is more than a shop, it is an experience. It may be difficult for bookshop owners to eke out a living while being undercut by online retailers, but Sindbad lacks the limitations of its competitors, combining low prices with the ambience of a brick-and-mortar bookshop.