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Getting on the same page: Finding the right bookstore for you

By Eve 28 Jan 2016 • 3 Comments

Bookstores are without question my favourite type of store. Not only are they beautiful, but if you manage to find a book-launch, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the free wine and cheese. And unlike the unfortunate decline of video shops, I want to believe that book stores will never really go out of fashion. I feel the same way about kindles as I do about online shopping; pictures just don’t cut it (take note, Tinder). 

And while I’m the first to write home about the public library, by the time I get around to paying my overdue fines, I may as well have bought the book in the first place. 

Vic Books

I hate to admit, my desire to read usually comes when the book at the top of my list is the last thing I should be reading. How Gen Y is it that in order to do something self-developmental, it has to be against my better judgement? If you’re a rebel who’s only cause is skipping class, but you don’t want to venture too far, Vic Books is your go-to.

This bookshop flies under the radar for many outside the uni scene. If you haven’t been to Vic Books in a while, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s more café than bookshop. Luckily the new revamp has kept the great coffee while adding the namesake – great books. I try to give myself a Vic Books fix every day. Perusing their large and eclectic range of books and magazines does make you feel you are aiding your education. Plus, if your a student who cant afford to take anything home because you spent your last $5 on a flat white, the staff don’t mind you cheekily scanning a few pages while you enjoy it. 

Unity Books

Now, if you finish the coffee but aren’t ready to put down the book, just find another copy at Unity. At Unity you never feel like you're overstaying your welcome - in fact they welcome you with open armchairs. I love it that bookstores are one of the few places where you can browse beautiful goods for hours without feeling any pressure to buy.

Located in the CBD on Willis Street, Unity tends to be the inner-city’s port of call for books. There’s a huge selection here, categorised into sections so even a novice reader won’t get lost. Unity is the mothership for coffee-table books regardless of whether you’re into art, fashion, architecture or travel. Unity will have you browsing cookbooks even if you can’t cook, architecture books if you live in a bedsit and landscaping books even if your fingers will always be more manicured than your garden. 

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Millwood Gallery

The store may not be huge but everything is carefully chosen and beautifully displayed. Millwood combines their book collection with original art, mostly from Wellington artists and much of it very reasonably priced. They also have a wide selection of picture books, both adult and children's, which are my favourite type of book. I collect them as I imagine I would art if I had deeper pockets. It's also the place to brush up on Wellington's history and if you have a holiday in the pipeline it's worth popping in - I'm yet to find a place that rivals Millwood for their travel books. 

Millwood is located on Tinakori Road, a little bit of a walk but definitely worth it to find this beautifully refined store which is serviced by staff who really know their stuff. Walking in is actually not a far cry from opening your favourite book. You can bet that if Oscar Wilde’s great-great-grandchildren were in Wellington buying books today, they’d be doing it at Millwood.


The only thing separating Pegasus Books from Black Books is about three litres of cheap red and a bitter old Irishman. Although, it is conveniently situated next to Oriental Kingdom… and around the corner from J.J. Murphys!

Pegasus is a second-hand bookstore which stocks a range of books from antiquarian to near new. They categorise their books into subject areas, so it’s a great place to visit if you are after a history book, or you want a refresher on your Greek mythology. There are so many bizarre yet quirky subject areas to browse - going to Pegasus can turn into a bit of an experience but you know you’ll come out with a good story.

Arty Bees Books

Arty Bees is less selective than the likes of Millwood or Unity, but you may walk out with that hard to find copy of Catcher in the Rye that you’ve been searching so long for.

No need to go in with a purpose. It’s like the old saying; “if you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there”. And Arty Bees can feel like the spaghetti junction of bookstores. However, if you have the whole day (as I often do) spend it poring over their huge selection. Regardless of how many books they have in at any one time, the staff always seem to know how to locate exactly what you’re after. And if it’s not there they remember who they sold it to! They have the mental database of Rob Gordon in High Fidelity. And speaking of High Fidelity, if you’re a musician looking for sheet music, here you’ll score plenty. 

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Clearly, the opportunities to peruse beautiful and varied books in Wellington are many. And for those of you not quite ready to jump straight into the bookstore scene, you could always tack it on to your Friday night drinks and hit Library bar. No kidding, there’s an unspoken rule that you can actually take the books away if you bring them back or replace them. Plus they’ve taken much more of a shine to my affinity for Mimosa’s and Long Island ice teas that the public library has.

Let me know if you've got any favourites I should know about.

Add your comment

  • Mary Virtue on 05 Feb 2016

    Loved this article - inspiration for my next trip to Wellington. Millwood sounds like a great place for a visitor to Wellington to pick up a gift. Mary

  • Carla Wild on 28 Jan 2016

    What about Marsden Books - personal service where they know what their customers like and can always recommend a good read.

  • Sam on 28 Jan 2016

    I love all of these book stores — except I hadn't heard of Millwood Gallery! I am so excited to go check it out. Great article!

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