Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thoughts: On Second-hand Bookstores and My Top Spots

It's expensive to be an enthusiastic reader in South Africa. Buying books new is just simply not an option for a lot of folks as the price of a new mass market paperback now hovers around the R200 mark.

Also, if one reads 5-10 books in a month, this can tally up very quickly!

This point was made very clearly to me yesterday evening when I was browsing at my local Exclusive Books (Ok, I was really hoping for them to finally get stock of Children of Blood and Bone, with no luck...). A girl was clutching at a copy of The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington and asking her mother if she could get it. The mom turned the book over and, with a dismissive sneer, said, "I am not paying R170 for a book. We can go look at the second-hand book store and get four books for this price."

I felt bad for the kid. She clearly wanted the book and might not find reads she was as enthusiastic about owning at a second-hand store. What makes this even sadder for me is that The Red Ribbon is not some fluffy faire. It looks at the fictionalized lives of the seamstresses of Birken-Auschwitz and weaves in a message of friendship and hope. While this is not the focus of this post, I felt that, had the mother not been so dismissive and read the back of the book, she might have seen more than just the price and realized the true value of the book.

However, readers do need to buy new books as they are ultimately the suppliers for second-hand bookstores, so it can be a bit of a vicious circle.

Therefore, I do advocate supporting local bookstores and buying brand new books, however, I also love bargain-hunting and searching for hard-to-find older titles. There is definitely a place for both kinds of stores as long as books find their way to readers.

There are some really awesome second-hand stores in Johannesburg with really helpful staff and excellent selections. Here are my top 5 recommendations.

All these stores offer the option to trade books back for store credit.

1. Books Galore - Lonehill

One of my favorite spots, Books Galore in Lonehill Shopping Center has been around for many years and offers a great selection of genres, often getting in newer titles as well.

They have, in particular, a fantastic children's selection for all ages and will usually have stock of the more popular titles.

The staff are dedicated and friendly with an excellent knowledge of stock-on-hand.

Shop LL03
Lonehill Shopping Center
Lonehill Boulevard

Telephone: 011 465 5524

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 09:30-18:00
Saturday: 09:30-15:00
Sunday & Public Holidays: 09:00-13:00

2. Books Galore - Edenvale / Greenstone

This branch is a new discovery for me, but I was impressed by the helpful and knowledgeable staff.

They have a well-organised store with a nice focus on Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

I particularly loved the recommendations shelves from the two managers, as it adds a personal touch to the store and experience.

The store can be challenging to find if you do not know the Greenstone area well. It is located in one of the smaller centers opposite Greenstone Mall. Just look for Builder's Express and you are in the right place.

Shop 2a
Greenstone Crescent
Stoneridge Drive
Modderfontein Hill
South Africa

Telephone: 011 452 2421

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 08:30-18:00
Friday: 08:30-19:00
Saturday: 08:00-17:00
Sunday & Public Holidays: 08:30-16:00

3. Tales and Fables - Victory Park

Based in Victory Park, Takes and Fables has been around since 2006 in it's current form and has an amazing selection of Fantasy titles, including older series such as Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms.

They also boast a large children's section and seem to be very well-supported in the community.

I have been there a few times and have always found something interesting, such as a complete set of The Liveship Traders, by Robin Hobb.

Shop 14A
Victory Park Shopping Centre
Cnr of Rustenburg and 2nd Ave
Victory Park

Telephone: 011 782 3660

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 9am - 6pm
Sunday: 9am - 3pm

4. Bookdealers of Rivonia

If you are not a regular in the area, it would be hard to find Bookdealers of Rivonia's new store. Located opposite Rivonia Primary School, this specialist store is away from the hustle and bustle of shopping malls.

They have a great selection of history books, as well as collectible titles.

Their crime and contemporary sections are also well-stoked and reasonably priced. As an example, I found a decent copy of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo for R47!

If this is out of your way, there are other Bookdealers located in the following areas:

  • Melville
  • Birnam
  • Craighall Park
  • Greenside
40 Wessel Road

Telephone: 011 234 1250

Opening Hours:
Mon: 9am - 5pm
Tue-Fri: 9am - 6pm
Sat-Sun: 9am - 3pm

If you feel I left out some good spots, please comment below and let me know.

Happy bargain hunting!

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