Get Lost in the Pages at 11 of Sydney’s Best Independent Bookstores

best bookstores sydney

There’s an air of curiosity in a good bookstore. You can wander through the stacks and still not pass by every book in a store or happen upon a treasure read you weren’t looking for, but it found you. Plus, it’s always nice to slow down and take time for yourself.

Be it a timeless literary masterpiece or a freshly minted title, Sydney’s best bookstores provide this and beyond. Some even extend the charm with the company of a cosy coffee shop or an attached bar, making the pursuit of literature that much more exciting.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Better Read Than Dead

Better Read Than Dead, Newtown

The name says it all. This Newtown bookstore favourite often attracts Australia’s best writers, looking to host an author event or just wandering through the aisles looking for a good read. You will also find an impressive range of genres in the towering bookshelves. Be sure to read the recommendation tags, especially if you’re looking aimlessly.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Hordern House Bookstores

Hordern House Rare Books, Surry Hills

Sometimes the best bookstores in Sydney don’t actually sell books. Some invite you to sit and read. The Hordern House spans two floors and holds a collection of Australia’s pre-federation history. Book an appointment to sit in the grand reading room and treat yourself to mint-condition books predating Sydney.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Gertrude & Alice

Gertrude & Alice Cafe Bookstore, Bondi

This much-loved Bondi institution has a rich literary history that spans twenty years. Stop by for a quality cup of caffeine and rare books to add to your collection. It’s a great place to spend the weekend aimlessly wandering through the stacks, also known as “me time.”

best bookstores sydney

Constant Reader, Crows Nest

This village bookshop stacks the shelves with beautiful coffee table books, new sellers, best sellers, and old classics. You might just find a gem here, or an old edition of a Fitzgerald novel. They also have a selection of gifts for the book lovers in your life. It’s a great independent bookseller if you’re looking for something unique. Some months, they host author events, so you can meet your favourite writers.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Amanda Michetti

Title Store, Surry Hills and Barangaroo

The Title Store is a part bookshop and part record store, slinging vinyl and paperbacks. They have a great selection of international artists and a massive collection of art books, the kind you want to put on your coffee table. Enjoy sifting through the genres of books, films, music, DVDs and more.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: 紀伊國屋書店 新宿本店

Books Kinokuniya, CBD

This one is for the art-lovers, design geeks, and anyone who appreciates photography. Nestled in The Galeries, Kinokuniya leans toward a Japanese influence, with a collection of manga comics and Japanese authors, but you will also find a large range of stories from around the globe. Find everything from cookbooks to self-help, colouring books, and the latest sellers.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Destination NSW

Berkelouw, Paddington

This bookstore has been around since 1994 and has become a local staple. Peruse three floors of books stacked to the ceiling—both new and secondhand. Don’t worry if you’re struggling to decide on something; the staff are certified bookworms and more than happy to recommend some great reads. The level-two cafe is a great place to sip and leaf through your new book.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Sappho Books

Sappho Books, Cafe and Bar, Glebe

Sappho is a bookstore, cafe, and bar, so you can pick up a new read and a caffeine fix or stay for the live performances and fairy-lit courtyard. The books here are second-hand and known to treat visitors to a few rare and vintage finds. This is more than a bookstore, but a destination.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Elizabeth’s Bookshop

Elizabeth’s Bookshop, Newtown

Beneath the iconic forest-green awning lies a trove of pre-loved titles—stacked on shelves and tables. A bibliophile’s haven, you’re going to want a spare few hours to explore the eclectic range, from vintage magazines to Aussie crime. Seek surprises with a wrapped ‘blind date with a book,’ complete with intriguing hints or find a section you’re interested in and start digging.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Ariel Books

Ariel Books, Paddington

When it comes to finding Sydney’s best bookstores, you can’t pass up the opportunity to wade through the stacks of one of the oldest independent bookstores in the city. Open since 1985, Ariel’s is a Paddington staple for beautiful coffee table books and gifts. Bookseekers will find a massive range of art and design books alongside new releases, crime, poetry, science fiction, and graphic novels.

best bookstores sydney
Photo: Ampersand Cafe and Bookstore

Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore, Paddington

At Ampersand, brunch transcends into literary discovery, a recurring evolution. The two-story café extends to an open terrace and offers remarkable coffee and breakfast, like the acclaimed pear-poached porridge. After brunch, pursue the stacks to find your next thriller or romantic story.

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