Archives Fine Books Collecting Prize


Dawn at Archives Fine Books in Brisbane has announced Australia’s first book collecting prize! All of the details are on their website, but it’s for people up to the age of thirty-five who live in the Greater Brisbane area. It opens on the 1 January 2020 and deadline for entries is 29 February 2020.

Keep up with what these fine book people are doing on their Facebook page and go visit their bookshop at 40 Charlotte Street, Brisbane City. As they say themselves:

Located on the ground floor of John Mills Himself, a heritage-listed building in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, Archives Fine Books is one of the largest second-hand bookstores in Australia. Our size means we are like a number of specialty stores in one: literature, philosophy, politics, sport, military history, westerns, Australiana, esoterica, religion, law, business, science, science fiction, fantasy, popular fiction, biography, music, quilting…the list goes on…and on.

Established in 1985 by the well-remembered Emmanuel, the store has been cared for by a handful of unique personalities, each one contributing to its reputation as a Brisbane icon. Hamish Alcorn bought the business in 2008 and since then has organised more than half a million books, weathered  the GFC, the e-book revolution, and survived freak storms and floods. He also married Dawn Albinger and has strongly supported her vision to build the antiquarian and ‘Fine’ end of the business. Together they plan to keep the doors open for decades to come, contributing to the intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic life of Brisbane City.

I’ve been going there since the 1990s and have bought large numbers of books from them, including a full set of Anais Nin’s diaries. It’s rare that I leave without finding a book that I’ve long sought after, or one that I’ve just discovered is essential to read. I went once looking for Georg Büchner’s plays, particularly Wozzeck, and they had a copy!

Dawn and Hamish run an essential business for, without fine bookshops like theirs, our cultural lives run dry. We cannot live only by economics and, although I love a nice café or bar as much as the next person, we need enrichment of our creative and imaginative selves and a sharpening of our critical thinking skills as much as we need food and drink.

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