Starting with the annual DCM book fair I’ve been on a bit of a book-buying binge lately, so for dedicated bibliophiles here is a miscellany of new and second-hand bookstores in and around central Wellington. Conveniently, my two favourite bookshops (Unity and Arty Bees) both have a bus stop right outside.
Unity Books is damn-near perfect. Literary fiction along one wall, themed tables: politics, science, biography, history, NZ, art, cooking, travel, music, and more — that’s if you can get past the tempting selection of new releases at the front of the store. At Xmas time it’s brimming with books and shoppers. They also hold book launches and author events on a regular basis.
Arty Bees has just celebrated 30 years in business. Originally two stores, it has condensed over the years but still has a great selection of second-hand books especially New Zealand non-fiction, history, science fiction and fantasy, as well as plenty of literary fiction. Themed window displays, friendly & knowledgeable staff, they buy books for cash or store credit. You always find that book you never knew you needed here.
Tucked away in the Left Bank of Cuba Mall, Pegasus Books is jam-packed from floor to ceiling, often with that book that nobody else has. Lots of second-hand fiction, NZ books, poetry, art, history and biography with awesome library ladders for that hard to reach title.
Further up Cuba Street, Ferret Bookshop has the tagline ‘poke your nose in.’ They have another a branch in Featherston, New Zealand’s booktown (another prospective blogpost). Quirky and unusual second-hand titles are laid out on central tables.
Quilting and textile craft books are Minerva’s speciality, but they also stock a gorgeous range of stationery and coffee table art books.
Opposite the foodie heaven of Moore Wilsons, Ekor also offers a small café which is well-patronised. Choose a quiet time to book browse there’s not much space once the coffee drinkers settle in. Ekor stocks an eclectic range of new titles, mostly non-fiction: art, gardening, music, history, cooking, and children’s books.
Although their main business is supplying textbooks for the university, Vic Books also stock a good selection of new titles. The main store is part of the Kelburn campus with another at the Pipitea (near the Railway Station) and both have in-store cafes.
It’s also worth venturing to Newtown for two more second-hand bookshops:
Book Haven has an interesting assortment of titles to browse through with only 10% of their stock displayed in the shop — there is an even bigger online selection.
Book Hound, the new kid on the block, has a nicely-curated selection of good quality books. The shop is owned by a writer and has this Groucho Marx quote on the wall: “Outside of a dog a book is our best friend, inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
I’m not sure why, but an animal-themed logo (bee, squirrel, ferret, horse, hound) seems to be almost obligatory for Wellington bookstores.