The interior of Good Books book store. A bare concrete floor with plywood shelves on either wall are filled with all sorts of books.

Good Books

  • Location

    16 Jessie Street, Te Aro, Wellington

  • Website

    Good Books

Among a clutch of boutique stores and cafés that inhabit Jessie Street, in a narrow plywood shelf-lined space, lies a book oasis. This is Good Books, a non-judgemental space stocking quality books no matter what the genre.

Good Books began as a lighthearted comment on social media. Wellington poet Jane Arthur joked that she wanted to buy a bookshop. Her friend and fellow author Catherine Robertson messaged her to say she was keen too. The pair set out a grand vision of what a good bookshop could be. They wanted it to be about the joy of reading and discovering new books to love.

They made a plan in July 2020 and by October they’d opened. With four months from idea to reality, Arthur admits to a speedy turnaround. Finding the space was fortuitous. “It was far enough away from other bookshops to complement and not compete and this area is getting buzzier and buzzier”. Their neighbours include Prefab café, Good For wholefoods refillery, Hamish McKay’s gallery, and the organic children’s brand Nature Baby.

The floor-to-ceiling plywood shelves at Good Books are filled with books. A table in front holds stacks of books.

The pair employed architects Bonnifait and Giesen to design the shop. Thin gold-tipped bespoke lights hang from a high ceiling. Two nooks on either side of a staircase provide cosy places for a children’s section. And a long, tightly packed wall is balanced on the opposite side with more white space and inviting book covers facing out. “I had two words for the architects — ‘accessible’ and ‘welcoming’. I wanted the space to feel non-judgemental,” says Arthur.

Welcoming all readers is important to the Good Books ethos. It represents and celebrates all genres. “If the quality of the writing is good then we are happy to stock it.” Arthur recalls the people who express surprise at their signposted romance section: “The whole point is to get more people reading isn’t it?”

Manager and co-owner of Good Books Jane Arthur stands at the front of the store holding a stack of books.

Poet, editor, manager and co-owner of Good Books, Jane Arthur.