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The Best Second-Hand Bookstores in Johannesburg with Great Deals on Hard-to-Find Books

I always thought of books as a form of vacation—each one a trip to a different time and place with different sets of companions (book characters). While ebooks are now becoming much more popular, I think nothing beats hard copies of books!

That’s why I love hanging out in bookstores, especially second-hand ones where I can score some great books and also encounter hard-to-find titles. I listed some of the ones I visited around Joburg so you can check them out yourself!

1. Bookdealers of Melville

From chichi_lingo

Address: 12 7th St, Melville


Contact Number: +27117264054 

Operating Hours:

  • 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday
  • 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday
  • 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Sunday

I was looking for classic books (like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird), so I decided to visit Bookdealers of Melville to score some cheap copies of these books. Once I got to the bookstore, I immediately noticed the personal library vibe of the place.

The bookstore is set up in a medium-sized room with its walls covered in bookshelves filled with around 9 to 10 layers of various books ranging from fiction, how-tos, and picture books for kids. There’s also a centre bin with CDs and hardbound books on sale.

I found a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and got it for cheap (compared to buying it brand new of course). The bookstore staff was kind enough to inform me that they don’t have Catcher in the Rye in stock, but they’ll inform me once they have one available.

Pro Tip:
If you want to ask the bookstore to look for and reserve a copy of a certain book for you, you can leave your contact details with the staff so they can let you know if they acquire what you’re looking for.

2. Collectors Treasury

From johannesburginyourpocket

Address: CTP House, 244 Commissioner St


Contact Number: +27 11 334 6556

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

I’m a big fan of anything related to history, especially my own. So, in my opinion, Collectors Treasury is one of the best used bookstores in Joburg, as they sell some of the most interesting topics pertaining to Afrikaans’ history and heritage.

The establishment looks like an antique shop with various trinkets and old furniture. Most of the used books are in front and occupy numerous shelves and the floor.

Personally, I would have wanted the books to be more organised, but I was impressed with how knowledgeable the store staff was in finding certain books. Some of the book categories that I checked out include African literature, music, art, and languages!

Pro Tip:
If you can’t drop by the bookstore in person, you can still check out their collection online

3. ReadMatter Secondhand

Address: 63 Dunrobin St, Sydenham East


Contact Number: +27799922882

Operating Hours:

  • Sunday to Thursday, 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM
  • Friday, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

A friend told me about how good Readmatter Secondhand Bookstore is, so I decided to visit their store a few weeks back. One thing I immediately noticed was how organised their shelves and books were that the location didn’t even look like a used bookstore!

All books were placed on shelves with genre labels. Some of the genres I saw (and lingered by, as these are my fave genres) include fiction and thrillers.

I was so happy I scored an Anne Rice bundle (5 books) here for cheap! 

Pro Tip:
Readmatter Secondhand Bookstore regularly conducts a Bookmobile. To learn more about this, check out this page

4. Chapter 1

From chapter1bookstore

Address: 67 Grant Ave, Norwood


Contact Number: +27114831899

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Sunday, 9:15 AM to 6:00 PM

Chapter 1 has become one of my favourite used bookstores in Johannesburg. I like it because, like Collectors Treasury, it has a great selection of books pertaining to anything related to Africa’s heritage and culture.

The store may look a bit disorganised (with books on the floor) at first, but it’s filled with hidden gems that might interest you (especially if you’re a history buff such as myself). It’s amazing to find reading materials about 1820 settlers!

They also buy second-hand books from their customers. I’m not ready to part with any of my books yet, but you can reach out to them via email ([email protected]) if you have some to sell.

Pro Tip:
You can also buy and order their books online. However, if you don’t want to pay the standard delivery fee of ZAR 100 (even for deliveries within Joburg), I strongly suggest that you just visit their store.

5. Maxwells Books

From screenqueen666

Address: 3 Bon Accord, 63 Ellis Street, Bellevue East


Contact Number: +27845253872

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Friday and Sunday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Saturday, 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM

Maxwells Books isn’t bursting at the seams with tons of books. However, what it lacks in volume and quantity, it more than makes up for it with the quality of its books and the overall feel of its store.

The shop only has two large shelves filled with various books, but it has a few minimalist tables and chairs that make the bookstore look more like a relaxing coffee shop. Also, I really liked their milkshakes which cost ZAR 60 each. 

The books and comics that I saw on sale were also in great condition, and in fact, some of them didn’t even look second-hand! So I think some of the pristine comics and books for ZAR 70 are of great value.

Pro Tip:
Visit their Facebook to learn more about their book catalogue. 

6. Hardcopy Books

Address: Lezard Corner, 22B 4th Ave, Parkhurst, Randburg


Contact Number: +27105411370

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Friday,10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Saturday, 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Sunday, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

The tagline of this store is “Pleasure your shelf,” and I think that your shelf will indeed thank you if you purchase one (or more) of Hardcopy Books’ books! I dropped by their store located in Randburg, and the shop had a rural and homey feel to it.

Thanks to its solid white walls, organised shelves, and wooden tables, the place looks like a personal library that any bookworm will be proud of. Most of the books I saw on display include paperbound fiction and hardbound kids’ books. 

I recommend checking out their centre bin as well since aside from the bargain options, I saw a couple of interesting self-help hardbound books. Plus, there were also a number of lifestyle books (like photography and music history) that I found very interesting!

Pro Tip:
If you’re looking for hard-to-find titles, you can request the bookstore to find the books you’re looking for.

7. L Elephant Terrible Bookshop

Address: 44 Stanley Ave, Braamfontein Werf


Contact Number: +27 72 617 7343

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Sunday, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

I grew fond of L’Elephant Terrible Bookshop the first time I visited this bookstore 2 months ago. It had a bohemian feel thanks to its differently sized shelves, stacks on stacks of books, and the unique trinkets and picture frames on the walls.

There are also stacked books right in the middle of the store which may seem disorganised, but I like this setup. The stacks aren’t taller than waist level which made it easy for me to see the selection of books.

Plus, I liked the variety of used books ranging from historical hardbounds to paperbound fiction books and classics like Canterbury Tales. As an animal lover, I left the bookstore with a copy of Snakes of South Africa.

Pro Tip:
To learn more about the upcoming events of L’Elephant Terrible Bookshop, check out their Instagram

8. Bookdealers BluBird

From michaelkweziferguson

Address: 94 Atholl Oaklands Rd, Birnam


Contact Number: +27114406338

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 pm

This used bookstore in Birnam is one shop I recommend you visit if you want an old-school library feel while picking your next book to read. I liked that the store has tan-coloured wooden shelves and chairs which gave its interiors a relaxing vibe.

There are also tables in the middle of the store where books are arranged and lined up as if a librarian is in the process of organising them. Of course, you can freely browse them and read a few chapters before deciding to purchase.

While there were a ton of paper-bound and hardbound fiction books here like works from Michael Crichton and John Grisham, I also saw some self-help books that you might be interested in. On my next visit, I’ll probably buy an Asian philosophical book just for fun!

Pro Tip:
They also have a ton of bargain books on offer.

9. Kalahari Books

Address: 2 Dunottar St, Orange Grove


Contact Number: +27826788619

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Friday, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM

For me, Kalahari Books doesn’t look like your standard used bookstore. It looks like an artist’s studio thanks to the different abstract and colourful paintings on the walls.

My only gripe here is that some books were placed too high up that it’s difficult to sort through them without the assistance of store staff. Still, I found a few ones worth buying.

I was thinking of buying children’s books for my young nephews, and this store delivered in spades. There were a ton of books for the young ones such as Stuart Little, Dr. Seuss, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which I got for reasonable prices!

Pro Tip:
Visit their Facebook to learn more about their upcoming events and promos. The bookstore sometimes has a clearance sale where you can buy books for as low as ZAR 10 each! 

10. Rick’s Books 

Address: 35 4th Ave, Parkhurst, Randburg


Contact Number: +27814486079

Operating Hours:

  • Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Rick’s Books isn’t the most impressive-looking used bookstore in Johannesburg. However, it gets the job done by offering fantastic book collections, good quality items (almost pristine even), and good value for money compared to buying brand new.

They have a comprehensive selection of books that include self-help, children’s books, fiction, and cookbooks, among others.

The store also displays dirt-cheap bargain books outside. I checked out the table and saw a couple of National Geographic Magazine back issues that I decided to purchase for just a couple of Rands (which I think is a steal!).

Pro Tip:
Check out their Facebook for any updates and upcoming events. From what I saw, Rick’s Books features other events related to vintage and antique items. 
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