Second-hand books are good for two reasons: they’re usually cheap (if you like reading), and even if you don’t, they make for great intellectual décor. This week Perdeby set out through Pretoria, and even on worthwhile journeys beyond the boerewors curtain, in search of the best places to score used books.
Collectors Treasury (Commissioner Street, Johannesburg)
Housed in a run-down block in downtown Jo’burg, this high-rise bookshop is rated as the largest second-hand book dealer in the southern hemisphere with something between one and two million books. Collectors will furnish you with all the signed first-edition modern classics your nerd-mouth has been drooling over since the last decade. The place is a complex maze – boasting little structure – of truckloads of printed word.
Bookdealer’s Melville (7th Street, Melville)
This tiny shop with books stacked to the rafters on 7th Street is the best shop for its particular collection of reads. It has a well-formed selection of literature that offers a welcome break from the Anglo-American dumping sites of mainstream book chains.
The Hatfield Flea market (Burnett Street, Hatfield)
The bookstall at the Hatfield flea market has been supplying good literature for cheap prices for ages. Make a Sunday outing out of it. Get some frozen yoghurt, browse through the collection, and if you end up cash-strapped, remember you also have the opportunity to sell your books here.
Sungardens Hospice (Lynnwood Road, Lynnwood Ridge)
One of the most unassuming bookshops, Sungardens Hospice, will provide you with all the brain-fodder you need. Expect anything from Kafka to Wenresepte 3. If books aren’t really your thing, the hospice also offers meaty bundles of magazines. What’s more, for everything you buy, you are supporting a good cause, since the revenue goes directly into the hospice’s coffers.
Better Books (Groenkloof Plaza, Groenkloof)
Elegant and calm, Better Books offers a good variety of books. Specific to this shop is their great collection of art books and their hardcover editions.