Here I was wandering around Brisbane Arcade minding my own business and looking at the beautiful timber decor when I looked up…Wow, there are shops up on the first floor as well – that looks interesting.
After a bit of searching I found a narrow staircase and proceeded to go upstairs after first waiting for a lady to pass down the stairs – This is an old building and has a narrow staircase.
What I found at the top of the stairs was a compete surprise. A rare books shop – This place was amazing!
There are old books (no surprise there!) some dating back to the 1700’s and maps and prints and all sorts of interesting stuff.
What really surprised was that some the books were not that old – even a young whipper-snapper like myself (OK I’m 50) recognized some of the authors and titles. There were books by Ion Idriess who was one of my Dad’s favorite authors.
I had a good look around and had a chat with Bill, a very friendly and knowledgeable gentleman who was running the shop. I wanted to find out what made a book ‘rare’.
Bill was really helpful and explained that ‘rare’ is not really the correct word to explain the books in the store. He said that ‘desirable’ was a better description but it didn’t make for a great shop name.
Bill went on to tell me there are many things that make a book desirable – everything from books on a particular theme, location or era and of course dare I say it ‘rare’ as in not many printed or not many surviving.
First person accounts, from people who were actually there, were far more desirable than books than those written by modern authors digesting and regurgitating an amalgam of other authors books – he would rather read the original works. This man clearly knows his stuff and his passion is clear to see.
I was surprised to find that you don’t need a king’s ransom to buy books either – some were quite inexpensive and some are clearly very desirable with a price to match.
My words here do not do the shop justice. I really cannot recommend this place enough – I have no idea if the books are good value or not – What I can say is “There are many desirable things for sale in this shop”. If only I had a budget to accommodate such an addiction – and I suspect that it would be an addiction – you have been warned.
If you have someone special in your life and have been scratching around for a gift, then ‘Voyager Rare Books Maps & Prints‘ might be just what you want. It is well worth the visit just for a sticky beak at many desirable things.
There are other interesting shops upstairs too – custom jewelry, rare watches and the list goes on…It might be tricky to find but well worth the effort.
One final tip… look after the dust covers on your books – Bill told me a book missing a good quality dust cover can reduce the value to one third of the price of a book with a dust cover… ouch!