Buy great books and support Brisbane's best book stores
There are signs that book stores are making a come back or at least recovering (Hooray!) from the terrible time that has seen book stores all over the world close down. According to the Guardian, Waterstones UK is about to break even after tailoring its chain stores to local tastes. It seems that now it is more necessary than ever to help the great independent book stores in Brisbane that have managed to continue operating through these tough times.
Sure you can buy from Amazon but it's got some bad press due to its working conditions (see articles in Salon here and The Guardian) and after all there's nothing like browsing a real life book store; the joy of finding new books from favourite authors and the quality of help you can get from experienced and enthusiastic book store staff who can always help you find something you'll enjoy. So here are my top four favourite independent booksellers in Brisbane.
1. Black Cat Books - Paddington. Black Cat Books an independent book store run by Peter and Stephanie Hogan, has been a presence in Paddington since 2010. The store has a wide range of books including a great kids' section, classics section, travel, art, architecture and more. The staff are very helpful and enjoy finding books for their customers. The store also hosts a number of book clubs so one of them might help you to find some like minded book lovers. I respect Black Cat's assistance to local schools and new authors. It donated a number of prizes to the local school fair and has hosted book launches for local up and coming authors. Well worth a visit in person or to the website.
Pulp Fiction Book Stores
2. Pulp Fiction Booksellers - Brisbane. Being a fan of mystery and crime books I find that there's no equal to Pulp Fiction which specialises in science fiction, fantasy and crime and mystery books. It has recently relocated to level one in the Blocksidge and Ferguson Arcade off Adelaide Street so no longer has street frontage. If you are a fan of these genres it is well worth the effort to find their new premises. The small shop is absolutely jam packed with books and if you can't find it on their shelves they can order it in for you. A number of customers have standing orders for new books by favourite authors.
I recently emailed them with a large list of books for Christmas presents. Within an hour they had replied to tell me they either had all of the books or could order them in within days. Talk about service! The staff are also so incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their stock that it's worth a visit just to hear the latest news about your favourite authors, although I'm sure they'd prefer you actually buy something. They also have an e-book store so if you're a Kindle fan you are also catered for. Visit their website here.
3. Avid Reader - West End. Avid Reader at West End, which opened in 1997, has become a local institution and gathering place with its author events and cafe out the back. The staff are very knowledgeable and keen to help. In addition to a great range of books it also sells a select range of CDs and DVDs. The cafe and courtyard out back is always worth a visit and you can peruse your new purchases while savouring a delicious cupcake, tart or other goodie.
Avid Reader also runs a number of unusual book clubs including Good Sex, It's a Bloody Crime, Australian Book Club, Young and Restless and Fiona's Open Book Club & Day Light Book Club. The names are self explanatory so you can pick the one that best suits you. An exciting new venture is the new children's book and gift store, Where the Wild Things Are, that Avid is opening in 2015 just near its existing store. The best thing about this is that the store will be gender neutral so no enforcing of boys books and girls books. Instead children will be able to choose their reading free of the insidious pink and blue aisles. To find out more about Avid Reader and Wild Things see here.
River Bend Books
4. Riverbend Books - Bulimba. Another old favourite is Riverbend Books which opened in 1998 on the corner of Oxford and Cambridge Streets. Its success is much like the others on this list - great staff, a calendar of author events, workshops and poetry evenings, bookclubs and a great cafe. For all these reasons Riverbend is an important part of the local community.
The cafe is on a beautiful large deck out the front and is surrounded by leafy green trees. It is a great place for a coffee or a glass of wine after browsing the shelves. A nice way to visit Riverbend Books is to catch the ferry and stroll along Oxford Street checking out the many cafes and shops along the way. See their website here.
I hope there are plenty of other hidden gem bookshops in Brisbane so let us know of your favourite independent book store.