Book Stop #4

One of the many pleasures of being a bookseller, is the insight I have gleaned into books no longer in print or hard to get. The pleasure part comes when enquiries by customers about said books, allows me to engage in some bookish research on their behalf. It is disheartening when I have to inform them that the book they were hoping for is unattainable, but the next pleasure is suggesting they check out any second hand bookshop they come across to try their luck that way.

For most book lovers, the chance to scour a second hand bookshop is nothing but pure delight, even if you come out empty handed.

It is a pleasure I give myself whenever I travel. I love discovering second hand book shops tucked into small towns and villages and quiet suburbs around Australia.

During this current trip, I re-explored an old favourite in Mornington (just down the road from Farrells Bookshop). In previous visits I have found some great holiday reads, but this time around I was conscious of the rather large bag of books I packed into the back of the car! I didn’t really need any more holiday reads.

But the real treat, has been Tapsell’s Books in Rutherglen. Three unsteady rooms stacked and packed with rambling shelves, catering to all the usual categories. The added bonus was a large back-lit fish tank at the counter and a very contented black cat licking her paws on a chair nearby.

On the top shelf of the Australiana section, I was delighted to find The Oxford Literary Guide to Australia edited by Peter Pierce (1987).

The Assistant and Associate editors include Rosemary Hunter, Barry Andrews, John Arnold, Bruce Bennett, David Elder, Peter Hay, Brian Kiernan, JSD Mellick, Patrick Morgan, Marcie Muir, Les A Murray, Margaret Scott, and Graeme Kinross Smith.

It is a delight of old photographs and place names. How useful and informative it might be, is still to be determined, but a lovely old black and white photo of one of the iconic pubs in Balmain, was enough to add it to my pile.

The second find was this!

TITLE:Australian Literature 
AUTHOR:A Bibliography to 1938
E. Morris Miller
Extended to 1950
Frederick T. Macartney 
YEAR: 1956
PUBLISHER:Angus & Robertson
LIBRARY STAMP:Upper Murray Regional Library

Both these books are now out of print. And both these books are now mine!

Another treat was discovering a slim volume from the mid-70’s claiming to list all the Sydney bookshops. In it I found the listing for my old book shop (new owners two years ago changed the name and renovated, however we can still claim to be the only bookshop serving Balmain, from the same location, since 1969).

I love to think that once upon a time our range of occult books was noteworthy! Sadly, though, the Balmain Theatre Group is now more.

Do you have a favourite second hand book shop? One of my favourites, is Sappho’s in Glebe Point Rd, Sydney. With several jam-packed rooms, upstairs and down, and a quaint cafe off to the side, it is possible to while away half a morning there.

18 thoughts on “Book Stop #4

  1. Oh, I love a good rummage in a second hand bookstore or op shop! I remember finding a signed edition of Jessica Anderson’s Tirra Lirra by the River in rural Far North Queensland about 6 years ago and being so excited about it. I think it cost $2! I now live on the same street as Elizabeth’s book warehouse in Fremantle and my favourite thing to do, at least once a month, is to pop in for a browse. Yesterday I found three Persephone novels and it felt like I’d won the lottery!


  2. Yes, I love second-hand bookshops too, though these days there seem to be more of them in country towns that there are near where I live in Melbourne.
    That Oxford Guide is a treasure. I have the same edition and I usually rummage around in it when Bill is hosting his AWW series. I don’t know the other one… I look forward to hearing about your adventures with it in due course.


    1. And I look forward to having the time to browse them properly! I plan to use them for my final post of The Pea Pickers, which I finally finished a few days ago.


  3. I’ve almost forgotten what a second hand bookshop looks like – it’s been more than a year since we were able to go into one. Sadly there is only one near me despite being just 30 mins drive from the capital city. Otherwise I have to rely on charity shops which seldom have anything other than the popular stuff


  4. I am missing second hand bookshops so much. There are two here I go to regularly – one in Belfast and one on the North Coast – dying to get back for a hoke (as we say here in NI!)


  5. Boy, am I envious of that ‘Australian Literature’, not that I don’t have some gems of my own, but you know, completism. I was going to be my own second-hand bookshop once and I have a reasonable stock, but sadly I need to earn a real income. My favourite is in Warrandyte (outer eastern Melbourne) and the owner there told me once he owns the shop for love and lives on his super.


    1. The sign on Tapsell’s door says they are closed public holidays & other random days. I popped by the following day (when I thought of another couple of titles to check for overnight) but he wasn’t open. Obviously my Weds splurge was enough for him to take the next day off 😅


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