Beyond Q: Bookshopping delight

Xenophon’s been a tougher read than I expected, so no book reviews quite yet.  But recently I have had the chance to head back over to one of the best secondhand (best of any really) bookstores in my city.

Beyond Q (previously known as Lawson’s) lurks downstairs in the Curtin shops.  First you come across the highly populated discount table, then through a glass door lies small displays of locally made jewellery and art, some indie published books depending on time and whimsy, and the smaller nifty pocket-sized books, all clustered in delightfully busy order around some shelves and a wooden side-table.  Across from these, forming the entryway into a small corridor, are backpack sized lockers and the sales counter.  The area tends to get cluttered with cardboard boxes and plastic crates of yet-to-be-priced or sorted stock.

Then, the store opens up.  Beyond Q is huge, and uses the underground floorspace to great effect.  Tall shelves everywhere, and to my personal delight sections specifically dedicated to archaeology, anthropology, mythology, indigenous Australians and Australian history.  Most of the sections, though secondhand, have better stock than the largest retain bookstores in the city centre.  Prices aren’t as cheap as some sources online, but they are decent and the books are always worth the cost (and then some).

Tucked away behind the sales desk is the cafe, where evenings of music and other gatherings are held.  One wall is floor to ceiling packed with all the iconic Penguin Classics line, orange and blue and green and beautiful in various stages of fraying decay.  I am maybe perhaps in love with this place, and the furniture in the cafe (and the glass display cabinet with exciting folios and Australiana, and the nearby ‘new arrivals’ stand) is just icing on the cake.

This last time, I was good and frugal.  Like every visit, I ogled some of the older and higher priced books in my favourite sections, and was then elated to find very cheaply priced pulpy and well-worn copies of some Flashman novels.  I’ve never gone there and walked away empty-handed.  If you get the chance, though I know most people never end up in Canberra, do make sure you visit this bookshop.


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