Hang out, browse, buy books, maps and travel guides and meet other booklovers at South African bookstores. Whether it’s a large chain store or a quaint second book shop tucked away in a small town, you’ll find a range of South African and international literature to enjoy.

Did you know?

Collector's Treasury, a bookshop in Johannesburg, stocks 1 000 000 books and paper collectables.

South African bookshops range from well-resourced chain stores to small speciality or second-hand shops where you'll find all kinds of interesting reading materials, including antique books and Africana.

One of South Africa's largest bookstore chains is Exclusive Books. It has about 40 outlets throughout the country and stocks tens of thousands of titles, with a strong showing of South African writing on its shelves. Other bookstore chains with stores around the country include the Wordsworth chain, with its flagship harbour front store in Cape Town and CNA, which stocks books, music and stationary.

There are also a number of antiquarians and Africana specialists, as well as simple second hand stores throughout the country.

In Cape Town, The Book Lounge is an excellent independent bookstore. Also look out for Clarke's, which was founded in 1958 and deals in antique books, southern African art, prints, maps and ephemera. They issue Africana catalogues twice a year, and offer a search service for antiquarian and second-hand books. Other Cape Town bookstores include Africana Books, the Book Nook Shop and Tommy's Book Shop.

Thorold's is the oldest bookshop in Johannesburg, having been in business for more than 70 years. Another Johannesburg stalwart is The Collector's Treasury, with its eight-storeys of books, sheet music, records and maps. Also visit Juta Bookshop, Chapter 1 Books and Gandolphs Books.

Among top South African bookshops in Durban is Adams Bookshop specialising in Africana and academic books, Book Base, selling collectables, and Ike's Books and Collectables. Also in KwaZulu-Natal are ABC Bookshop in Hilton and Imagine Books and Gallery in Hillcrest.

Port Elizabeth is famous for Fogarty's Bookshop and Christison Rare Books, while Pietermaritzburg is home to Shuter and Shooter.

While larger bookstores tend to be confined to the main centres, dealers in second-hand books in South Africa also abound and can be found tucked away in suburbs and small towns around the country. You can also shop for South African books online at Kalahari.net.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Exclusive Books
Tel: +27 (0)11 798 0000
Email: info@exclusivebooks.co.za

Wordsworth Books
Email: booknews@wordsworth.co.za

Thorold's Bookshop
Kya Sands, Randburg, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0)11 875 9991

Clarke's Bookshop
Long Street, Cape Town
Tel: +27(0)21 423 5739
Email: books@clarkesbooks.co.za

The Book Lounge
Tel: +27 (0)21 462 2425

Best time to visit

Most larger book stores are open seven days a week. Speciality book stores operate on more traditional hours (generallly closing for the weekend at 1pm on Saturday).

Around the area

Bookshops often host readings, book signings and other cultural events.

What will it cost

Books in South Africa generally cost between R100 and R500, with coffee table books selling for more than this, and second-hand books, for less.

What to eat

Some bookstores have an in-house coffee shop. Check their websites for details.

Best buys

Pick up some local South African literature by one of the country's many award-winning writers.