Best Book Shops

When it comes to investing in a new page-turner, there are plenty of options to choose from. While for some readers buying books is strictly about finding the right book at the right price, for others the experience of buying a book also counts. Continue Reading...

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Based on 51,608 reviews
Booktopia

Booktopia

4.8  (32,841) Summary
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Tim H.
Tim H.5 posts
 
Fontaine Publishing Group

Fontaine Publishing Group

5.0  (173) Summary
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Cantonment Hill Friends
Cantonment Hill Friends
 
Efficient and professionalPrinting our children's book, Counting on the Hill, with Fontaine Publishing was a delight. Jason really understood our book and we agreed very easily on the format. We are delighted with the quality of the paper and of the books production. Show details
Angus & Robertson

Angus & Robertson

4.7  (5,193) Summary
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Eric
EricQLD4 posts
 
isubscribe

isubscribe

4.6  (815) Summary
Anne
Anne
 
Subscribed Feb received 1st mag 17th JuneVery helpful and Ruby efficiently sorted out the problem of missing delivery of my subscription. Couldn't be happier everything is on track now and hopefully nothing more to worry about going forward. Show details ·  1
Magshop

Magshop 🏆 2024

4.4  (5,590) Summary
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Robert
Robert5 posts
  Verified
Slight IssueSlight problem as forgot password from previous subscription. Purely my fault. Show details
Zookal

Zookal

4.2  (693) Summary
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Branlen
BranlenWA
  Fair Incentive Verified
Memorable Customer ServiceI am so impressed by the quality of customer service by Zookal – always helpful and gracious in all correspondence and understood the customer's perspective, making me feel valued at all times.

The quality of customer service skill has left a memorable impression. Show details ·  1

World of Books (Wob)

World of Books (Wob)

4.0  (2,600) Summary
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Gustavo
Gustavo
 
UNRELIABLETERRIBLE !! I bought an item, it never came and never got a refund. They sent two e-mails saying they were going to investigate but, nothing ever happened. They took my money and I didn't receive my item. Show details
Campion Education

Campion Education

3.9  (1,933) Summary
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Jane M.
Jane M.
 
Terrible customer experience - cost me hundreds $$$Sent me 2 wrong books for my daughter at a cost of over $100. Made me pay another $100 to send the actual one I ordered. Will not give mea refund until I return in person the incorrect books they sent me. Disgraceful. Show details
Campion Education
Campion Education   DM   
More

Please see our direct message; we're just looking for some extra details so we can better assist you! -Edmund

Dymocks

Dymocks

3.4  (1,188) Summary
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juergen
juergenAU43 posts
  Verified Physical Stores
Good Range of BooksSydney City Store - great service and a good range of books.
I knew roughly what I wanted but having a range of book on the particular topic let me confirm that my original choice (based on online info) was the one I wanted. Show details
Brotherhood Books

Brotherhood Books

5.0  (17) Summary
LeonGov
LeonGovVIC3 posts
 
Koorong

Koorong

2.9  (41) Summary
Steve g
Steve gWA3 posts
 
Honest traderGreat bible delivered in 2 days exactly as described. Thankyou Show details
QBD

QBD

2.2  (200) Summary
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Nick
NickNSW
 
Collins Booksellers

Collins Booksellers

3.5  (12) Summary
Jacob
JacobVIC3 posts
  Fair Incentive
Excellent Service - Fast DeliveryI ordered a book that I've been looking for ages...
Super fast delivery (2 working days)
I can see it was packaged with a lot of care. (Very much appreciated)
Boomerang Books

Boomerang Books

2.5  (24) Summary
Shell
ShellVIC4 posts
 
Abbey's Bookshop

Abbey's Bookshop

5.0  (5) Summary
susanc
susancSA5 posts
 
Readings.com.au

Readings.com.au

2.9  (15) Summary
Deb H.
Deb H.WA3 posts
 
Biblio.com

Biblio.com

3.0  (10) Summary
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Maria
Maria
  Verified
AbeBooks.com

AbeBooks.com

2.4  (15) Summary
Adam Y.
Adam Y.
 
Company is run by scammers and thievesAbeBooks is an amateur website with no oversight and incompetent staff. I was shipped a $200 book via the cheapest possible method, resulting in the book being thrown on the ground in front of my house and lost/stolen. AbeBooks made no effort to use signature-on-delivery. When I contacted them, the representative was indignant and uncooperative. Show details
Audible

Audible

1.5  (149) Summary
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James M.
James M.VIC2 posts
 
Customer service..there is none!I cancelled my subscription 3 months ago, I am still getting charged $16.45/month. I have tried to contact them with no result. Arranged for a call back got nothing, tried the live chat.... nothing. If you are looking to subscribe to this company think twice and read the reviews. Poor poor poor. Show details
The Book Grocer

The Book Grocer

5.0  (3) Summary
suzie s.
suzie s.16 posts
 
car owner
car owner5 posts
 
Kinokuniya

Kinokuniya

3.2  (6) Summary
Tien P.
Tien P.VIC2 posts
  Verified
Berkelouw Books

Berkelouw Books

3.2  (6) Summary
TraceyM
TraceyMNSW4 posts
 
Best place to find a new or second hand bookWe love going to the Paddington or Hornsby store. We love finding new books and we often find ourselves coming home with a new file of books. They have such a great range and the staff are always friendly. Show details
Harry Hartog

Harry Hartog

3.8  (4) Summary
Steven K
Steven KNSW
 
Bookpal

Bookpal

3.2  (5)
Joe
JoeQLD2 posts
  Verified
A reliable Australian publishing companyEverything is done efficiently and effectively in Australia and not through some overseas call centre. Furthermore, royalty payments from overseas and within Australia are timely.

 Show details

Bionic Book Subscription

Bionic Book Subscription

5.0  (2) Summary
Peter H
Peter HWA
 
Excellent giftBought a gift subscription for my mum for Christmas and she has loved the books sent to her
Folio Books

Folio Books

5.0  (2) Summary
Beckstar
BeckstarQLD11 posts
 
Best bookstore in BrisbaneSo sad I think its closed. Hope it reopens, it was the best bookstore Brisbane had Show details
Liz
LizWA6 posts
  Verified
Team 1 Global

Team 1 Global

2.1  (7) Summary
HELLO I.
HELLO I.NSW
 
scam people. they want slavesThis page is a total scam! None of these people pay and they're all fake. Hemant? Yeah, he didn't pay for the work done. This 'philosophy' they're pushing is just a load of crap. Don't waste your time or money here!
Alibris

Alibris

4.5  (2) Summary
Anonymous
Anonymous2 posts
 
Amazing but book took longer than expectedAs Annie has said below - Alibris is quite slow so be patient.
My book took just over 5 weeks to be delivered to my doorstep after shipping.
Well worth it though for the price paid! Show details
Readings Kids bookshop, a colourful independent bookshop in Carlton, Victoria.
Readings Kids bookshop in Carlton, Victoria.

Online vs physical book shops

Visiting a book shop

Pros
In-person customer service means you can ask questions about books, get book recommendations, and let staff point you in the right direction
Supporting local business and local jobs is an upside of buying books in-store, particularly for independent bookshops
Returning or exchanging books is often easier (particularly if you shop at a chain store) as you don’t have to bother with going to the post office
A sense of community can be created through shared interests. Bookshops often host events like poetry readings and author signings.
No delivery costs as you're buying from the physical store
Cons
More expensive than online bookstores, as books are usually always sold at the recommended retail price (RRP), and sales are infrequent
Increased closures of physical bookshops means that there may be less available shops to browse in your local area

Benefits of physical book shops

There are plenty of benefits of buying in-store if you value a positive customer experience, interacting with knowledgeable bibliophiles in the form of well-read staff, and being able to read the blurb and flick through the pages before placing your new book over the counter.

As a point of note, not all book retailers operate either solely online or in-store. For example, Dymocks and Collins bookshops allow you to buy online, if you prefer.

Buying books online

Pros
Cheaper prices are often offered, in the form of a permanent discount on the RRP
Easy and convenient as you can browse and order books from the comfort of your home, even your bed if you like
Cons
Shipping and delivery fees must be paid for the majority of online book retailers. With some online stores, spending over a certain amount waives the delivery fee.
Time delay between ordering your books and receiving them means you have to patiently wait for your new volumes to arrive
Customer service is limited to enquiries about transactions, not book-related questions or book recommendation requests
A lack of community as most buying involves a fairly solitary process using a computer screen
Can be a hassle to return books, especially if the retailer headquarters are located far away or overseas

Benefits of online book stores

There are a growing number of online book retailers, both within the country and operating overseas and shipping to Australia. A few popular online bookshops include Booktopia, rated the number one bookshop on ProductReview.com.au, and Book Depository, based in the UK.

In a nutshell, online bookstores are usually cheaper than physical book shops. They can afford to be more competitive because they don’t have to factor in added costs like rent, utilities and staff wages.

If finding cheap books is what you prioritise, then buying online is probably the way to go. Just keep in mind that there's often a standard shipping rate. To ensure that the amount of money you save on cheaper books isn't cancelled out by paying delivery fees, it can help to order several books at a time.

Is it bad to buy books online?

Some background

A number of physical book stores have closed in recent years, because they simply cannot compete with online bookshops. In Sydney this includes the kids bookstore the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft, Pages & Pages in Mosman and Lindfield Bookshop & Children’s Bookshop. Unfortunately, from a business perspective it’s cheaper to run an online store compared to a physical one.

The emergence and ongoing success of online bookstores can be a tricky subject for book lovers - especially the owners and staff of physical book shops.

Increasingly tough retail conditions and the fact that physical stores are continually losing customers to online book stores is a sore point. Sometimes readers step into a physical bookshop to browse the titles, then go back home to order their selections online. This behaviour is sometimes known as 'showrooming.'

The outcome

For some readers, the phenomenon in recent years of book store closures makes them loyal to only buying from brick and mortar book stores. For others, the book retailer that can offer the lowest price will always get their book money. Ultimately, this depends on you and your personal preference, as buying from a physical book store or online book shop is neither inherently good nor bad - it depends on a number of variables.

In one instance, you may need to buy a last minute birthday gift for a friend. You have the perfect book in mind - but need to buy it and wrap it before their birthday party at the end of the day. In this case, a physical book store is going to be the only type of store that can help you.

Or perhaps you'd rather shop in-store, but your local bookstore doesn't have particularly helpful or friendly customer service (it can happen!) In this case, you may feel absolutely no ethical obligation to support that book store instead of buying your books online. It really depends on the situation.

Interestingly, some book stores have adapted to changing consumer trends by switching to becoming solely online due to the increased financial viability. An example is Angus & Robertson, which became an online book shop in 2011 after 125 years of physical bookselling.

Chain bookstores vs Independent bookstores

Chain bookstores

Chain bookstores are usually large companies. They have a recognisable brand name that shows up in several locations throughout Australia. They are usually Australian bookshops, but some have their base overseas, such as Kinokuniya, based in Japan.

Some chain bookstores are franchise-operated, such as Dymocks, while others are company owned, such as QBD The Bookshop.

Independent bookshops

Independent bookstores are standalone bookstores. They’re one-of-a-kind bookshops that aren’t controlled by a larger corporate structure, and are usually locally owned.

They’re often full of quirk and character. When you think of an independent bookshop, you might picture a bookseller with a calm smile and hipster glasses who reads Kafka, and casually impresses with their encyclopaedic knowledge of relatively unknown books.

The books you find in an independent bookstore often embrace diversity - culturally, linguistically, and historically. Catering to more than just mainstream likes, they're good for sourcing niche books for readers with specific interests.

Comparing the two - The similarities

While it’s likely that you’ve heard bibliophiles speaking passionately about the value of independent bookstores, both chain bookstores and independent bookshops have their merit.

It’s important and only fair to note that many chain bookstores are franchises, and so locally owned and often family-owned, too. Provided they're well managed, these chain bookstores are just as likely to be the favourite literary watering hole of locals as an independent bookshop is.

Both independent bookshops and chain bookstore are places where you can engage in the fun activity of browsing books. Whether it’s the calm, quiet atmosphere or the ability to flick through the pages at your leisure, for book lovers there's something undeniably magical about holding a potential new book in your hands and getting to know it.

Comparing the two - The differences

CriteriaIndependent bookstoresChain bookstores
Range of booksUnique and extensive range of books beyond the bestsellers and new releases list . Can often have books on niche topics.Mainly have titles from major publishers, but can special order books into the store at customer’s request
Authors stockedOften buy from ‘indie’ or self-published authors, and smaller publishing housesSometimes buy from indie authors, at the store’s discretion
Feel-good factorHelp local economy as they’re often locally-owned small businessesAlso help the local economy when individual stores are franchises. Many are also family-owned businesses.
Community eventsOften have plenty of community events, including: book signings, book clubs, poetry readings, reading groups, and storytime events for kidsAlso have community events, but may not be as extensive as independent bookstores. Author talks and book signings can be common.
Store appearanceOne-of-a-kind in terms of shop set-up, display, and stock selectionMore consistent experience across stores, including consistent branding and storefront appearance.

Is it better to buy new or used books?

Woman browsing in large used bookshop
Photo credit: Nathan Williams, flickr.

Range of books

Buying second hand books can be a thrilling experience. When you walk into a second-hand book store, the element of surprise is high. It’s hard to predict what little gems you may find.

A used book store will have a higher number of older books than new book shops, which is more likely to stock older books if their popularity is ongoing. Second-hand book stores also have a wider selection of books that are no longer in print.

On the flipside, the cataloguing system in used book shops is not always as accurate as you’d find in a shop selling new books. Their shelving system may also be a little more chaotic than the orderly rows you'd encounter in a chain book store. As a result, if you’re looking for a specific title, it may be trickier to track down inside a second-hand bookshop.

Price

While used books are often cheaper than new books, this isn’t always the case.

There are certain independent bookshops that are entirely second-hand, but the sticker price on many of the books might surprise you. Perhaps it’s because the book is rarer, but high prices can be the norm, even on popular titles from major publishing houses.

Condition of books

It goes without saying that used books are pre-loved, so they won’t come in the pristine condition that new books are sold in. Sometimes a bit of age adds character to a book, and at the end of the day the contents inside are the same as if the book was brand new.

Environmentally friendliness

When you buy second-hand books, you’re essentially recycling a book. This doesn’t generate demand for new products, which saves paper as well as the energy associated with printing new books.

Do bookstores only sell books?

Some bookstores don’t just sell books, and their range expands into other merchandise. Most commonly, this includes audiobook CDs, novelty gifts, stationery and even sheet music. Kinokuniya is also known for being a manga and comic book store.

Wrapping up

Overall, where you choose to buy your books boils down to personal preference. Whether you buy new books or used books either in-store or online turns on what you prioritise most on your book buying journey.

These priorities can include: a low price, personable customer service, convenience, having a wide range of books to choose from, having your books available to read instantly, and having a sense of community with fellow book lovers.

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