With at least another month of lockdown stretching before us, waning interest in new hobbies and a shrinking ability to stare at Netflix for yet another weekend, some of us are choosing to dive headlong into the imaginary worlds of books. But with libraries closed, pals we usually book-swap with outside our five-kilometre radius, and bookshops closed for browsing, we’re getting dangerously close to finishing the usually never-ending stack of books next to our beds. But Sydney has no shortage of well-stocked independent bookstores, and plenty of them are doing delivery and click-and-collect to keep us going through the next month or so. Give these a shot.
Berkelouw, various locations
A trip to Berkelouw’s three-storey literary landmark on Oxford Street typically reveals all sorts of treasures, with hundreds of thousands of second-hand titles alongside a huge selection of new releases and rare finds. For now, we’ll have to make do by giving the stores a buzz to order click-and-collect – you can check out the collection online. Missing the surprise finds that come when you’re browsing in store? Take a virtual tour of the Paddo branch via its Instagram highlights – it’s actually pretty handy. Phone ahead to your nearest store (Paddington, Leichhardt, Rose Bay, Cronulla and Mona Vale) to order and pick up. Berkelouw Rose Bay is also offering free home delivery to neighbouring suburbs on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Books Kinokuniya, CBD
We could easily spend hours (maybe even days) trawling the shelves of Kinokuniya. For now, we’ll make do with scrolling through pages of books online, from the manga and comic books the store’s well-known for, to art and design books, cookbooks, new-release fiction and non-fiction, and Japanese- and Chinese-language books. Order online or via phone on (02) 9262 7996. Free shipping on orders over $50.
Bookoccino, Avalon Beach
This cosy cultural hub has been servicing the book lovers of the northern beaches for more than three decades. And a thing like lockdown isn’t slowing Bookoccino down; it’s offering delivery and click-and-collect to keep you in the wordsy way. If you’re stuck on what to read, staff are sharing their lockdown reading lists on the store’s blog and providing thoughtful book reviews over on Instagram. It’s offering click-and-collect, free local delivery from Narrabeen to Palm Beach, and free shipping in Australia for orders over $50. Order via phone on (02) 9973 1244 or online.
Ariel Booksellers, Paddington
An Oxford Street pocket of joy, Ariel stocks a fantastic array of reading, with a particular focus on art, design and literature. Get new releases, thought-provoking essay collections, non-fiction gems, poetry compilations and way more. Top up your order with a magazine or two and choose from a range of gifts while you’re at it. Order online for click-and-collect or delivery. Orders under $100 attract a flat rate of $7.95, and delivery is free for orders over $100.
Constant Reader, Crows Nest
This Crows Nest village bookshop and its younger Mosman sibling are all about selling what local readers want – whether that’s literary fiction, international bestsellers, biographies or staff favourites. If you live locally, it’ll deliver your books within 48 hours via motorbike, or you can click and collect. For everyone else, it’s Australia Post, with free shipping for orders over $100 and free express post for those over $150.
The Best Little Bookshop in Town, Cronulla
During regular times, this Shire stalwart offers psychic readings, spiritual counselling and yoga alongside its eclectic array of books. Until it reopens, you’ll have to make do with ordering from its extensive range of literature. Its hand-picked highlights should be enough to tide you over, but you can delve even further into the catalogue, which includes new releases, memoirs, cookbooks, books about the local area and a great selection of LGBTQIA+ reads. Order online for click-and-collect or home delivery within the Shire (free for orders over $50, $5 for under $50). Or give them a buzz on 0420 574 992 for orders and recommendations.
This beloved Glebe staple (which has outposts in Blackheath and Dulwich Hill) is a true community bookshop, with regular author events and launches. They aren’t happening right now, but the terrace store remains a go-to for great reads, from the latest Quarterly Essay to bestselling new releases, classics, prize winners and books unpacking everything from Covid-19 to the history of the piano. Order online for free postage within 10 kilometres of Glebe or orders over $70 in the rest of NSW. You can also click and collect from the Glebe store, or call Dulwich Hill ((02) 9560 0660) and Blackheath ((02) 4787 6340) to reserve books for pick-up at those branches.
Oscar and Friends, Surry Hills and Double Bay
This duo of bookstores is keeping the pages turning during lockdown, with free delivery in their local areas and click-and-collect. Choose from new releases, essay collections, history books and more. If you’re stuck for what to get stuck into next, the stores’ booksellers share what they’re reading on its homepage, and there’s a slew of reviews that’ll get your order over the line. Order online or call (02) 9326 2304 for the Double Bay store or (02) 9332 3509 for Surry Hills.
Potts Point Bookshop, Elizabeth Bay
An Elizabeth Bay institution, this petite store is crammed with choice reads. At the moment it’s open for collection only, from 10am to 4pm daily; you can place orders online or over the phone on (02) 9331 6642. Expect the store’s regular range of fiction and non-fiction, as well as a raft of art and design books, cookbooks and a great kids’ selection.
Abbey’s Bookshop, CBD
Since 1968 Abbey’s has been providing bookish Sydneysiders with great reads. And with foot traffic down in the CBD, this is a great time to support one of Sydney’s oldest booksellers. Visit its website for books sorted under categories such as “crime alley”, “science central” and “First Nations”. Get recommendations via its staff picks, and pre-order exciting soon-to-be-launched reads by the likes of Sally Rooney, Colson Whitehead and Yotam Ottolenghi. Order online for delivery Australia-wide (there’s a $7.90 flat fee in NSW) or in-store pick-up.
The Bookshop Darlinghurst
An essential browse for Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community, this staple has a sweeping collection of literature, magazines, DVDs, erotica and calendars. Expect everything from titles written by trans authors, anti-racism collections, academic and queer theory volumes, and memoirs by gay icons such as Joan Collins and queer celebrities such as Miriam Margolyes. Order online for delivery across Australia.
Better Read Than Dead, Newtown
This King Street favourite is offering a few different ways to grab its books during lockdown. Order online for free delivery or collection at its store. You can also give them a buzz or rock up to the shop, and they’ll give you recommendations and grab the titles you’re after then and there.
Gertrude & Alice, Bondi
Zoom book clubs and takeaway meals – including lentil stew and chilli con carne – are just two things that make this Bondi trove so beloved. It’s keeping up the good fight during lockdown, still serving coffee and giving book recommendations when you shoot its booksellers a text on 0416 098 212 or slide into its Instagram DMs. Order books online for pick-up or delivery, or call (02) 9130 5155.