Five bookstores where you can find ‘alternative’ literature

Do you consume books like they are the air you breathe? Yet every time you walk into Exclusive Books or CNA, you feel yourself becoming dejected because the prices are either astronomical or there is a limited variety of literature available. We feel you. The Daily Vox team looks at five places that provide alternative literature to what’s in the mainstream.

For all the bookworms out there, this is for you.

1. Bridge Books

“We believe in supporting African writers and in finding as many ways of getting books into the hands of as many readers as possible,” says Bridge Books, a bookstore situated in downtown Johannesburg.

If you’re looking for African literature or used books, Bridge Books is the place to go. You can find the store at 85 Commissioner Street (corner Harrison). The store has also started an African Book Trust, which is a nonprofit that aims to gives African books to libraries and schools across South Africa. However Bridge Books is not just a space to find some really good reads as it also hosts book events, writing workshops and other really fun stuff. You can find out more on its website.

2. African Flavour Books

“I was tired of struggling to find African books in mainstream bookshops …. They are not really catering for our people,” the owner of African Flavour Books, Fortiscue Helepi told The Daily Vox.

African Flavour Books was founded in 2013 by the Helepis to create a space for purely African literature. They stock 80% African books and 20% non-African books. The company is based in Vanderbijlpark at Shop 16, Vaal Walk Shopping Centre, corner of DF Malan and F W Beyers Street. The company sells African literature and vernacular literature from South Africa as well as music, stationery and movies. If you’re searching for that elusive African book, chances are you’ll find it at African Flavour Books.

3. Kalahari Books

Situated in Orange Grove on Louis Botha Avenue, Kalahari Books was established in 1998. They especially provide out-of-print and hard-to-find books, deals mainly in fiction, and are experts in tracking down and making available that sought-after books by popular books of the past. The three partners in the business all have a background in writing, bookselling, educational and librarianship skills. Kalahari Books also appears at flea markets, meaning they know the value of a good bargain.

4. Bargain Books

Bargain Books might not be the place for an intimate book shopping experience, but if you’re searching for a “steal”, then Bargain Books is where you should go. There are many Bargain Books branches around the country, with over 70 stores in all nine provinces. Established in 1998, Bargain Books has aimed to provide quality products with value for money They were also the South African Bookseller of the year for 2011 and 2013. So if you’re looking to load up your bookshelves and not make that deep of a hole in your pocket, find your nearest Bargain Books and head down there.

5. Modjaji Books

“From poetry to biography to fiction, there will be an outlet for writing by women that takes itself – and its readers – seriously.”

The last entry on our list might not necessarily be a bookstore, but Modjaji Books is an independent press that publishes the writings of Southern African women. Modjaji Books was started by Colleen Higgs in 2007 to unearth and find female voices and give them a place as a way of affirming the lives of women who live in South Africa and to make their lives more visible to those who aren’t part of their community.

Featured image by Pontsho Pilane

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1 Comment

  1. Cedric says

    I am familiar with African Flavour and Bridge Books. Just want to know,for the purpose of this article,was the search limited to Johannesburg or are there no alternative stores in Pretoria with its massive student population. Or is it still true that everything happens in Joburg only?Just curious. Thanks for the info

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