Joburg’s best …… Bookshops

Joburg’s best bookshops

My favourite of all is Boekehuis: 

  • Boekehuis, corner Lothbury Road and Fawley Avenue, Auckland Park, 011 482 3609, Mondays to Saturdays 9am-6pm    In addition to its wide range of Afrikaans books, the discerning reader can find books which cover topics from cultural studies to history to literature, and much more besides.  Boekehuis is also a great public space with a small coffee shop and a charming outside courtyard area. Located in an old house (originally belonging the Braam Fischer the anti-apartheid activist) people can meet over a glass of wine and a snack  to exchange ideas when they attend the book launches, author readings and discussion groups which all form part of Boekehuis’ literary programme.
  • Love Books 53 Rustenburg Road, Bamboo Centre, Melville, 011 726 7408, Mondays to Fridays 9am-5pm, Saturdays 9am-4pm, Sundays 9am-2pm    Small and independent, with a great selection of books, Love Books opened in June 2009 in the popular Bamboo Centre in Melville, Joburg.  Started by Jaci Jenkins (jewellery designer and co-owner of Tinsel) and Kate Rogan (who has produced the book show for Jenny Crwys-Williams at Talk Radio 702 for many years), Love Books is a creative space dedicated to book lovers.  Rogan says that the books have been personally selected – “they’re what we like to read”.  Beautiful illustrations by local illustrating legends Johdel and Johnny from The Motel (a cutting edge design group) adorn the walls and the comfortable chairs and fabulous coffee from the adjoining Service Station restaurant, make this bookshop a wonderful place to visit.


  • The standard large bookstore chain is Exclusive Books with branches near Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse in Hyde Park Mall, (011 325-4298); Killarney Mall (011 646-0931); Rosebank Mall (011 447-3028): The Zone  in Rosebank ; Sandton City (011883-1010); Sandton Square 011 784-5416;    While the shops tend to be typical of large chains staffed out of standard 9-5 hours with transient temporaries who do not know the stock, the stores are open till 9 in the evening and are linked to Seattle Coffee Shops where you can browse through your books of interest over a cup of coffee.  Hyde Park and Sandton Square both have later opening hours – varying until 9 during the week and until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

For those with specialist interests in Africana

  • Collectables and Collectable Books, 32 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview, 011 646 8320 (by appointment)   Michael Prior owns this bookshop come antique shop. Most of the books are Africana with about a third being given over to modern first editions and children’s books.  But what makes this shop really special is the range of maps and engravings dealing with subject matter from the colonial wars to botanical drawings.  With Tyrone Ave being full of coffee shops and pavement cafés, this is another bookshop where you can browse at leisure and then relax over a cup of coffee nearby.


  •  Collectors Treasury, CTP House, 244 Commissioner Street, Joburg CBD 011 334 6556, Mondays to Fridays 9am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-1pm   When searching for books for my research on old Johannesburg, my first stop is Collector’s Treasury located in an unprepossessing 8 storey building in downtown eastern CBD [central business district]. From the moment that you enter the building at ground floor level and start climbing the narrow steps, you are confronted by piles and piles and more piles of books … all the way up the stairs, all the way along passages, making further labyrinthian walkways in larger room spaces piled high with books, LP records, postcards, even objet d’art. One of the owners, Jonathan Klass, who has been in the business since 1974, says his parents were collectors and he grew up with 100 000 books around him. “We don’t throw anything out,” he says. (Davie “Great Shops in Joburg” But what treasures. If you have read and enjoyed Zafon’s gothic novel about the Cemetry of Forgotten Books and Sempere and Sons Bookshop, they will feel at home here!!


  • Frank R Thorold, 3rd Floor Meischke’s Building, 42 Harrison Street (corner Market Street) Joburg CBD , 011 838 5903, Mondays to Fridays 9am-5pm, Saturdays 9am-midday   Robin Fryde was a customer of the original Thorolds and bought the business in 1962. Renowned for his extraordinary stock of Africana books, Fryde collects from auctions both locally and internationally. He says of his collection method: ”It’s a certain amount of madness but no method.” .
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