Wandering around Sydney or indeed any city or town in Australia the evident dearth of bookshops must surely make visitors wonder if Australians can read.
Well, in the main, we can, but reading is not the major pastime it is in the cooler climes of Europe. Australians are more at home on the beach or at a footie match than sitting by the fire or tucked up in bed with a book.
This, coupled with extortionate prices, explains why there are many fewer bookshops here than in other countries. I will spare the reader with a expansive rant on the cost of books in Australia, suffice it to say that while on a recent trip to London I determined to buy a book I had seen in the Museum of London. Back at my hotel, I logged into Book Depository and bought it for significantly less than I could buy it in Canberra and it was there before me (with free shipping).
That said, I do buy books in Australia – sometimes I just can’t wait a week for them to get here from the UK or elsewhere, impatient bugger as I am, and, as such, I thoroughly recommend Abbey’s Bookshop tucked away on York Street, behind the Queen Victoria Building. In addition to all the latest books, Abbey’s has a massive range of older and vintage stock on almost anything you can think of from history to science, to crime, to fiction, to literature and, of course, travel. They also have a decent selection of foreign (non Hollywood) and art-house movie DVDs.
Venture upstairs and you will encounter two surprises, thousands of fantasy, horror and science fiction books (the specialised Galaxy Bookshop which used to be a few doors down the street moved in a few years ago) and what is probably Australia’s largest selection of fiction in foreign languages.
Should you be travelling on to another country and want to learn the lingo before you go, or en route, Abbey’s Language Book Centre has a range of books and other learning aids for over 100 languages so it most likely has what you need.
The other great thing about Abbey’s is that it remains a family business.
Also, Abbey’s is great for browsers and those hankering the feeling of just being in a bookshop. Just writing this review has me salivating and wanting to indulge.
‘Oh, behave’ I hear you say!
Another bookshop in the city centre worth a look is Dymocks’ main store at 424 George Street, a short walk from Abbey’s. A nice addition in it is the very decent, and reasonably priced, Dymocks Café, which I frequent from time to time.
Abbey’s Opening Hours
Mon – Wed and Fri: 8:30am – 6:00pm
Thur: 8:30am – 8:00pm
Sat: 9:00 – 5:00pm
Sun: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Address: 131 York Street
Directions: To the ‘rear’ of the Queen Victoria Building
Phone: 02 9264 3111