Published Art is a bookstore with a rule: the books it stocks must be aesthetically pleasing.
“It’s a very curated collection,” says Rebekah Lawson, owner and manager of the Surry Hills business. “There has to be a certain aesthetic to the product – the design, the production, the publishers.”
An image-heavy focus on architecture, photography and design books helps. But a huge amount of research and consideration is put into the process of choosing what to stock. Lawson also takes suggestions from regulars, and if deemed the right fit, will order it in. This means the staff at Published Art will often end up knowing all about its customers’ personal lives and home renovations. “They come in to find some inspiration and then we hear how it’s all coming along,” says Lawson.
When the specialist bookstore Architext in Potts Point closed in 2016, Published Art inherited both its stock and owner Anne Proudfoot, who ran it for almost 30 years. The store has built a following for servicing the architecture industry and the architecture departments in TAFEs and universities by helping them resource their libraries.
Another unique element of Published Art is its range of homewares by Normann Copenhagen. The items are tested here before being stocked elsewhere, concept-store style. Think bar trolleys, wooden sculptures and two-tone, lacquered bowls with clean, minimalist lines.
But it’s the books that are the focus. From hard-to-find children’s books, to the shelf of stunning photography editions by MACK publishing. Published Art is also the only stockist of the Glenn Murcutt folio – limited-edition monographs that provide rare insight into the process of Australia’s most eminent, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. Made of nine volumes comprising a hardcover book and eight folders, hand-finished and presented in a handmade solander box, there are only 1000 copies in existence.
“We try to find books that you don’t find anywhere else,” says Lawson. “We want people to come in and say, ‘Oh you’ve got a book on [that] photographer I haven’t seen before.” It’s that combination of personal service and specialty knowledge that makes shopping here unique.
Published Art fits well into the varied fabric of the Mary Street end of Surry Hills. The (appointment-only) florist next door, Pollon Flowers, provides Published Art with its in-store blooms. “Ross from Planet Furniture has been very supportive,” says Lawson. “I send a lot of people there.” The Jac+ Jack outlet store has opened over the road, and Lawson frequents her favourite cafe Single O regularly. “This end of Surry Hills has an industrial, interesting vibe, and everyone helps each other out,” says Lawson. “I’d say that too about other small bookstores. If we don’t have it, we’ll always send people somewhere else, usually to Kinokuniya or Beautiful Pages.”