The new City Basement Books

· Tuesday December 14, 2010

Long a hidden jewel of Elizabeth Street, City Basement Books was the kind of place you could walk past hundreds of times before noticing it and being drawn down the stairs. Once there, though, it was hard to make a case for a better used bookstore in Melbourne.

I've picked up lost children's classics like Puss Cat and The Knot Squirrel Tied as well as the ageing oddities Balzac's Droll Stories and Compton Mackenzie's Whiskey Galore, all very reasonably priced. Trouble is, last April the shop evacuated its location for the past dozen years - in the face of a rent hike - leaving a lot of loyal readers in sudden withdrawal.

The subsequent months have been a painful wait, but City Basement has finally reopened at its new location, just around the corner on Flinders Street. It's still in a basement - or at least downstairs - and laden with such changing stock that the owners tweet about new arrivals by the box full. Just in time for the holidays, too: wander in for a gift you won't find anywhere else. Just don't expect to get a pristine copy of the music lists compendium Hang the DJ: I snatched that up ages ago.