Off late, I have been suffering from a paucity of inspiration – in terms of what to write. So I decided to take myself to Maboneng, one my my favorite places in Joburg, that is brimming with creativity, quirkiness and vibrancy. I could not think of a better place to ‘look’ for a story. And Maboneng, as always, did not disappoint. My hunt for a story led me to a house of stories. Literally!
Collectors Treasury is an 8 storey building full of books, and is touted as the largest used and rare bookshop in all of Africa as well as the Southern Hemisphere! Run by two brothers, Jonathan and Geoffery Klass, the bookshop has been in operation since 1974 and is reported to have over 2 million books. Located right on Commissioner Street, this bookshop is minutes away from the trendy Arts on Main.
As soon as you enter the store, you know you have hit the jackpot. Books piled high, everywhere – on the shelves, on the floor, along the stairs, near the entrance and even outside the door! it’s really hard to describe the place. You have to see it to believe it. There seems to be no method to this madness. But I am told that if you are looking for something specific, just ask the Klass brothers and if they have it, they will know where to find it!
Since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I was just happy to take my time and browse, while breathing in the heady smell of old books. This is one of the main reasons I don’t read books online – I need to be able to smell them. It’s a different kind of high!
Collectors Treasury also has a very big collection of first editions as well as some really really old and rare books. There is an entire room dedicated to books dating all the way back to 1700 and 1800s. Just thumbing through the yellowed pages took me back in time.
The enormous collection of books means that books of all genres can be found here – fiction, biographies, classics, history, economics, cookery, etc. Besides these, the store also has an incredible collection of vinyls and maps. A large section of the store also houses antiques and collectibles such as vintage china, decanters, glasses and other knick knacks.
For a first timer, I was a little overwhelmed. But this only means that I have to go back again, and again, and again…..until I have covered it all.
Address: 244 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 9am to 5pm
Saturday – 10am to 1pm
Sunday – closed
Parking: on the street outside the shop or Arts on Main