Dunedin Bookwormery Mourns: The Demise of Scribes Bookshop

This won’t mean much to those of you who aren’t familiar with my little corner of the world… but I thought I would devote a post to it anyway. Scribes, the premier second-hand bookshop in Dunedin, is closing at the end of the year:


I prefer buying used books over new, so I have been a customer there for over a decade. Less so these days, since I now live in the southern part of town, but I still have many fond memories. Looking at my shelf, I can still see some of my purchases – a hardcover edition of Fox-Davies’ Complete Guide to Heraldry, some 1970s paperback Moorcocks, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, a collection of Algernon Blackwood’s short-stories, and a copy of Tree and Leaf, with a facsimile of J.R.R. Tolkien’s signature. I have also off-loaded books there too, most notably when an ex-girlfriend needed several boxes worth taken down when she was doing a clean-out.

Scribes was basically the Platonic Idea of a second-hand bookshop. Old books stretching from floor to ceiling, high narrow shelves, and a quiet contemplative gloom. Unlike the Regent Booksale – my other major source of used books – there was never any hustle and bustle. Scribes had a unique atmosphere, one where you always wondered whether time itself had stopped. Sure, the books themselves tended to be a bit pricier than other second-hand places, but you kept finding yourself going back again and again, just to browse through the shelves. Actually purchasing anything was almost secondary.

It will be missed.

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