Best Bookstores in Sydney

Updated May 4th, 2021


It might be the latest fiction bestseller you’re after, or perhaps something from the realms of architecture or queer literature. Many any of these places also do double duty: selling vintage threads and second-hand vinyl. Whatever it is, there’s nothing quite like browsing (or procrastinating) inside a bricks-and-mortar bookshop, where the recommendations are free and – if you know where you go – the coffee is strong.

Plus it’s always nice to talk with the person who stocked the shelves themselves. Chances are, they’ve been in the business for decades and know every title in stock. Many of these bookshops also act as community hubs: hosting live performances, author events and – in some cases – astrology readings and yoga.

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  • The crown jewel of the Berkelouw empire in Sydney. This three-storey literary landmark on Oxford Street has everything a book nerd could wish for, not least of all a good cup of coffee from the upstairs cafe. It’s licensed and open late, which means it’s primed for a pre-movie drink if you’re hitting the Verona Palace Cinema next door.

  • Sydney’s art-lovers, design geeks, illustrators and photography buffs practically live in Books Kinokuniya. Its range of niche titles is unparalleled – and that’s not to mention the incredible manga and comic book selection. As far as Sydney’s best book shops go, this one is vying for best-in-show.

  • The perfect pairing of books, coffee and coastal chill. Its current owners – one a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist; the other a lifelong bibliophile – have turned this shop into a bonafide cultural hub for the Northern Beaches, with live music and writers’ talks.

  • This colourful store sits on the CBD end of Oxford street, with enough variety to give designers, artists and literary types plenty of inspiration (or procrastination).

  • A neon blue sign in the front of this iconic shop simply reads “Books”. You’ll see plenty of them inside, plus the odd Persian carpet, and – occasionally – a well-known author lounging on the couch. It’s all housed within a gorgeous terrace house in the McMahons Point village.

  • This alluring and mysterious emporium trades in antique books and curiosities from Australia’s pre-federation history. Its treasures span the entire second floor of a converted Surry Hills warehouse, and – if you’ve got an appointment – you can sit in its grand reading room and pore over immaculate books that predate the city itself.

  • A quintessential village bookshop. This place stacks the shelves with anything and everything locals want to read, as only an independent bookseller can. It also curates the city’s longest-running author event, in partnership with the Stanton Library in North Sydney.

  • A community staple which goes well beyond the remit of an average bookshop. In addition to an eclectic range of new and rare titles, this bookshop boasts a suite of wellness rooms. Yoga, psychic readings and certified Wim Hof breathing classes are just some of the activities you can partake in here.

  • A King street legend. This Newtown favourite is ramshackle in the best way, with all the second-hand books and records you truly won’t find elsewhere. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, owner Natalie Gould probably does. Her family has been in the book trade for more than 50 years.

  • To call it a mere bookshop would sell this place short. Vintage threads and a sizeable record collection are some of the other treasures you’ll find here. It also hosts gigs, writer’s talks and long-table dinners. Grand nights indeed.

  • Although Gleebooks now has multiple locations around town, the original is still the best (it's in the name, after all). Come here for an excellent range of new and classic titles, author events, launches and more. There's an especially good young adult section here.

  • An Elizabeth Bay institution curated by book lovers and loved by local readers. Devotees of the crime genre, take note: there’s a book club here just for you.

  • All the charm of a London bookseller, with the second-hand offering to match. Visit for ultra-rare first editions, forgotten authors and old favourites from the past.

  • This charming book nook is all about quality over quantity. Sip wine and mull over the latest page-turner at one of its intimate, monthly book club meetings.

  • If you’re going past the Queen Victoria Building, this longstanding independent is worth a visit. It stocks a wealth of Australian crime fiction, and if it’s true crime you’re after, history is another speciality.

  • This Paddington bookseller does food, drinks and books. And what a combination that is. Every book across its three levels is second-hand, with regular bargains to be had. The website is constantly updating, with titles landing daily – even if they’re used, the rotation keeps things feeling new.

  • Wall-to-wall books on design make this one of Sydney’s true specialists of the genre. You can find back issues of high-end mags such as Monocle and Creative Review, but that’s not all – there’s also a raft of merchandise for sale by witty design crew, Good Fucking Design Advice.

  • An essential part of Sydney’s LGBTQI history. Visit for a comprehensive range of literature, magazines, DVDs, erotica and some very sexy calendars.

  • A local gem off the Manly Corso. This bookseller, record shop and performance space has all the eclectic charm you’d expect from five creative owners (one of them a high-profile comedian).

  • Part bookshop, part record store. It’s a must-visit for any music lover with enough books to rival their record collection. It’s a favourite among international touring artists too, with the odd legend sifting through the artfully curated shelves of books, DVDs and vinyl. Now with a second location in Barangaroo.

  • This is one of Newtown's best – and best known – book shops. The main draw, on top of the impressive, genre-spanning range, is the frequent author events. They regularly attract some of Australia's best writers.

  • This is one of King Street's most charming and enduring booksellers. But the biggest draw here is the "blind date with a book" special: you get a cheap, brand new book wrapped in brown paper – so you'll only find out what you got once you've made your purchase.

  • Quality coffees and rare books in what locals call their “Hotel California”.

  • Glebe’s most eclectic bookseller has a cafe and bar worth staying for – it’s open late on weekends, with live performances and a fairy-lit courtyard. This old terrace shop also houses a formidable second-hand collection.