In love with old books


By Lesley Warne

WOLLONGONG — A couple of years ago Elizabeth Perry decided that she wanted to do something interesting with her life. She came to Wollongong on a visit one day and decided it was the perfect place for a second-hand quality bookshop.

Elizabeth is now situated in a shop with books on eco-politics, women's studies, feminism, social issues, folklore, art, travel, literature, and in other languages. There is also a range of music tapes, CDs, wall prints and beautiful greeting cards from Italy. Elizabeth also carries Green Left Weekly.

The store features shelves made from 100-year-old recycled Oregon planks bought from a wrecker's yard in Sydney. Books await cataloguing in piles on the floor.

The shop is very much a reflection of Elizabeth's personality and views. She limits the amount of "pulp" fiction or military material and concentrates on stocking as many "green" books as she can find. A variety of music is always playing, from blues to Bach.

Elizabeth loves old books and thinks they make great gifts. A current favourite is a 317-year-old book which is in excellent condition and beautifully bound. The store has many other classics.

The store contains between 10,000 and 12,000 books, all purchased personally by Elizabeth. She describes looking over a batch of books being offered in, say, a garage sale as both tremendously exciting and worrying. "Are you overlooking some absolute treasure? You usually find something of value in a load of old books. It's a real adventure to think about what you might find."

Customers are varied, including "university students, the local solicitor and women who come in looking for old knitting books". The day I was there interviewing Elizabeth, a woman came in searching for books on old tractors. Elizabeth was able to oblige.

So if you're looking for a book on some obscure topic, searching for the right gift, or just love old books, you'll find Elizabeth at the eastern end of Crown Street, in store 57B. The shop is open every day except Christmas, from 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., and often later into the evening.

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