In this edition of Shop Talk, Winnie Dunn (Sweatshop Women) tells us about a multilingual independent bookshop for children in Sydney that is also a café, safe space for women, creative learning centre, and language exchange hub. Liam Pieper (Sweetness and Light) reflects on a favourite Melbourne suburban bookstore that seems to exist out of time and place, and Peter Goldsworthy (Minotaur) reveals the bookstore that he paid homage to in one of his novels.

Lost in Books (Fairfield, NSW)

Lost in Books is a multilingual independent bookshop for kids, café, safe space for women, creative learning centre, and language exchange hub right in Western Sydney! Eshayz. I’m Western Sydney ethnic woman through and through, and while it’s unfortunate that we don’t have many independent bookshops to support our reading ways through COVID-19, I'm still very excited to buy a counting in Sāmoan book called Tasi, lua, tolu, fa! by Jahri Jah Jah. My niece is a Tongan-Samoan-Australian and so having a place like Lost in Books in Western Sydney means I’m able to keep my niece attached to the part of her culture I don’t have a connection to or nuanced understanding of.

– Winnie Dunn

Jeffrey's Books (Malvern, Victoria)

I lived around the corner from Jeffrey's for a while. It's the kind of lovely suburban bookstore that seems to exist out of time and place, and somehow has exactly the book you need, exactly when you need it, and helpful, knowledgeable staff who are always on hand and seem to be having a great time, all the time. The shelves are heaving and a bit chaotic and every time I go I half expect to see the ghost of Norah Ephron taking notes on a napkin. I recently picked up a copy of Dead Astronauts, by Jeff VanderMeer, because HE IS THE BEST, and this is his new book and sort of a sequel to Borne, the apocalyptic nightmare/romance about a couple who adopt a sentient bioweapon as a child? While hiding from a giant mutant bear who is a local warlord? Anyway, Dead Astronauts is even more wildly imaginative and brilliant and everything VanderMeer writes is just maniacal genius in action.

– Liam Pieper

Imprints Booksellers (Adelaide, SA)

One of my favourite indie bookstores is Imprints Booksellers in Adelaide. One reason: you can dipstick the depth of a bookshop through its poetry shelves – if it is dedicated there, in the profitless sump of the literary market, it will surely be dedicated everywhere. Another reason: I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of book launches there over the years (including poetry books), and been to many more by others. I like Imprints so much I put their address in a crime novel I wrote last year. I didn’t need a bookshop in Hindley Street for my purposes, though – I needed both a brothel and a tattoo studio. I plumped for the studio at no.107 – better for Catherine and Jason if they had a queue of people at the door wanting tatts, rather than the comfort of strangers. Even better if any patrons bought a book while waiting for their tatt. The last one I purchased (book, not tattoo) was Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein.

– Peter Golsdworthy