Public service announcement: You can now leave your Christmas shopping as late as you like – our plan below will keep you sane and your gift list sorted.
Confession time. We ADORE Christmas here at Tate House. Our Christmas trees are up, our author is spending more time on her Christmas newsletter to her readers than she is on her new series, and the rest of us are hanging out at our local favourites soaking up the wonderful Christmas atmosphere!
Harry Hartog and Paperchain are our favourite Canberra bookstores, and a visit to these stores encapsulates all of the magic of this time of year- the bespoke carols playing, the Christmas decorations carefully put together or made by the staff and the new release books all shiny and ready for purchasing, plus reading guides to set you up for a long hot summer of devouring books.
Of course, all of this magic is down to the dedicated teams that run the stores as a hub for a community to grow around. They’re absolutely marvellous.
At Paperchain you can indulge in their stationary, calendars, diaries and assorted accoutrements at the counter. While you’re there check out the handmade Paperchain decorations (so cool!).
Further south at Harry Hartog, their range of non-book items has just exploded in time for Christmas (our pick here was a magnetic game travel set of checkers) and their usually welcoming display has been taken to the next level by the lights and decorations of the season.
As you already know, both these stores have an excellent selection of books and an incredible team of staff who can recommend the perfect book for any age category. And we reckon books are the absolute best gift to give anyone at Christmas.
We hope you enjoy your Christmas shopping as much as we did this year and don’t forget to treat yourself to something while you’re there.
Wishing you all a safe and merry Christmas for 2018!
The Tate House Team
Don’t you just adore the smell of books – especially treasured, secondhand or old books? Ever spent an afternoon immersing yourself in them, hunting through shelves and picking out things you never thought you’d find? Well, if you haven’t been to Canty’s – read on for our latest #awesomebookstore blog on this wonderful secondhand store in Fyshwick, Canberra.
Secondhand bookshops used to be a staple to any suburb or town. Bookshop owners would hunt for product to stock their shelves and it was often quite a challenge to find enough stock to keep up with demand. The crew at Canty’s bookstore in Fyshwick recall those days. They’ve weathered 26 years of the evolution of secondhand bookstore culture, explaining glibly that ‘just a few people bought something called a Kindle a few years ago’. This had an immediate and twofold effect — the demand for secondhand books dropped overall, but Canty’s supply simultaneously increased as other secondhand stores closed up, and Marie Kondo told us all to de clutter our lives, apartments and bookshelves.
Canty’s is a book lovers delight – every conceivable surface is covered in all kinds of books imaginable. The store is divided into separate rooms, making it quite the adventure as one charming and mysterious book-packed space gives way to another. Some serious time can (and should) be spent exploring the titles on the shelves here – especially as the volume of book stock available to the store has increased. Nothing but the cream is placed on the shelves.
The incredibly small and busy team behind the Canty’s name also purchase secondhand books for the store – all appraisals are by appointment so make sure you call ahead! We were amazed by their knowledge of their product, but most particularly their impressive skill in easily locating any book amongst the seemingly endless towers of pages on offer to meet a customer request – here there is order, not chaos.
Like all good bookstores they do their bit to support the community around them, sponsoring select local school fetes and activities. But what really sets the store apart is the nostalgia and excitement that their unique stock conjures – the perfect setting for an adventure into the world of books the next time you need a literary escape. There is already a loyal Canty’s following, however their location in Fyshwick, a suburb not famous for its bookstores, means the store is still undiscovered by many long term Canberrans. We are pretty sure their secret won’t be safe for too much longer. All we can say is that it’s well worth the making the trip to explore and enjoy this treasure trove.
You can find more details on Canty’s at www.
P.S. If you’re a coffee drinker like Lisa, then you’ll be thrilled to know Canty’s is just around the corner from ONA Fyshwick
Sunny Cairns in far north Queensland was not the place we thought we would stumble onto – or into – an amazing independent bookstore! We lucked out finding Cairns Books in the air-conditioned glory of the Cairns Shopping Centre. Independently owned and operated by a small but dedicated team, the store reflects the interests of its local customers with its well stocked local history and natural history sections, books on the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef and an expansive Indigenous books collection.
They even have charts to identify different kinds of fish – a unique and wonderfully locally-flavoured step removed from the usual non-book items on sale at indie stores in the southern states. Cairns Books focus on the local area and the interests of its community doesn’t detract from the broad selection of more mainstream titles available, so if you’re looking for the newest release or even a classic, don’t fear, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The store has been up and running for 5 years, and has a strong outlook with the team in charge (who are all very youthful!) having many years experience between them running successful independent bookstores that contribute to their community (we were also given the golden tip of checking out Petrarchs Bookstore in Launceston – we’ve added it to our list!). Cairns Books helps stock local school libraries and hosts ‘the Readers Cup’ – a competition for local school kids – in addtion to rallying the local community in supporting ‘regional’ schools and providing donations to a school in Papua New Guinea.
Customers are the absolute focus for the Cairns Books team. They endeavour to find the perfect book for their loyal local following – proudly taking the extra step in ordering in second hand books for their customers if a requested hardcopy is no longer in print! While the store is in the Cairns Shopping Centre, it exudes the welcoming, inclusive and genuine atmosphere unique to all good independent bookstores – a wonderful credit to its hardworking team.
Definitely add this gem to your list while on your next tropical far north Queensland getaway to find a unique holiday read and support another great independent store giving some character and community to the tourist town around it.
You can check out their website here: cairnsbooks.com.au
Ready yourselves for a post full of insane amounts of excitable and enthusiastic adjectives…. (full disclosure – Harry Hartog Woden might be our favourite)
These days we can carry thousands of books on our kindle/iPad/insertEdevicehere. So a bookstore needs to bring an extra ‘something’ to entice customers to leave the house and peruse the shelves of their heavier less e-friendly versions. Harry Hartogs in Woden does that in spades!!
Where do we start? With Harry’s incredible and frequently changing displays, or their wide range of book and non-book delights? And then there’s the incredibly welcoming atmosphere, no matter what age, shape or size you come in. It’s impossible for any of us in the Tate House team to make a trip to Woden without popping in for a browse or to pick up the latest copy of uur favorite series (yep, we’re throwing in a shameless plug for the addictive Mage Chronicles series by Tate House’s own Lisa Cassidy!)
The staff at Harry Hartog are an instantly welcoming presence. All who enter are invited to share in the sense of curiosity and excitement that books and storytelling bring. This is no small feat as their customers range from the very small (with their little hands who want to touch everything and are welcomed to do so!) to the other end of the spectrum and their literary escape-seeking counterparts.
Harry Hartog’s experience is clear in their ability to recommend a book for all tastes and their sense of fun is abundant in their book launches and other community events – from murder mystery dinners to author meet and greets. And last but not least, Harry’s is extremely enthusiastic about supporting local authors – they welcomed Lisa with open arms right from her very first book. What more can you ask for from a bookstore?
If you’re in Woden, make sure you leave time to visit Harry Hartog and reignite the magic of escaping into the world of books!
You check them out on Facebook here: Harry Hartog
We at Tate House started reviewing bookstores because we can’t get enough of how they grow and enrich the communities around them, creating a love of reading and learning (not to mention how many of them support their local indie authors!!). Paper Bird–an independently owned and operated bookstore in Fremantle–has taken this theme to the next level, actively growing a creative space in the building around it to capture the attention of young minds and share the magic and adventure of books.
Kids and young adults are the focus for this store and even our quick visit behind the thick stone walls of the historic Moores Building shows that these guys know how to create a space ideal for growing a community of young minds, creative thinkers and game changers.
The range of books on offer meets all tastes, from the thick-paged chewable cardboard books for babies, right through to fantasy for young adults (and those of us in the adult age bracket who enjoy #ya), but what really sets it apart is the extensive list of extracurricular activities the store has initiated, supported and developed to enrich its community–starting with the Woylie festival hosted to promote Aboriginal Australian children’s literature, as well as kids art and writing classes, bookclubs, twice weekly story time and a never ending series of events (seriously, check out their Instagram or get on down there).
The team proudly showcases the works of Australian writers and their inclusiveness extends to a table of writing and drawing materials in the middle of the reading area for young customers to harness their creativity, initiating a transformation of new customers into the newest members of the Paper Bird Press squad. The possibilities seem endless in this wonderful space tucked away beneath large staircase and twinkling lights, and the bookstore isn’t just style. Its substance is clear in the fellowships it supports (select children’s authors and illustrators are given a dedicated workspace for a 3 month period) while the Paper Bird Press Fund supports more equitable access to children’s literature.
This store hasn’t just grown the community around it through its own passive presence, it has carefully cultivated and enriched the area around it with an enchanting and unique ‘imaginarium’ of unstoppable creativity, making books and the magical worlds within them accessible to all.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor from the east make sure you make the time to visit and see the difference this #indiebookstore has made for yourself.
Paper Bird Children’s Books & Art