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Our iconic bricks and mortar book shop at 378 Great King Street is open:
Monday to Friday 8:30 - 5:30
Saturday 10:00 - 4:00
Sunday 11:00 - 3:00
Although our books like privacy after dark we love this exposé from our bookselling colleagues at Type Books, Toronto, celebrating the nightlife of real books…. Be ready to be tickled …
University Book Shop (Otago) Ltd.
The University Book Shop is a beacon amidst an increasingly homogenised world – a haven to those who enjoy books. When you step through the door you know you are in a real bookshop – one of the oldest independent bookshops in New Zealand.
The shop started in small premises in the 1950s and was originally known as the Presbyterian Book Room. In 1962 we moved across the street to our current location.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s writers, artists and creatives of all casts developed affinities with the shop. The book shop and surroundings, that included the Captain Cook Hotel, became a focal point for the loosely defined counter-culture movement. The poet Peter Olds wrote “Thoughts of Jack Kerouac - & Other Things” while employed as the shop’s cleaner.
In 1975 the Otago University Students Association bought 50 percent of the business. Bill Noble became manager in 1978. Under Bill’s management the general books section of the shop expanded. He established the now famous Non-Stop Sale Room on the first floor. The bookshop has become an integral part of the community, known for its thoughtfully chosen selection of titles, including a fantastic children’s book section. The shop has received the prestigious Thorpe Bookshop of the Year Award numerous times. It is now one of the largest independent bookshops in New Zealand.
"We gamble on new and little-known authors; on titles ranging from the quaint to the outrageous, from the breathtakingly beautiful to the powerful and disturbing. To stock and sell just one copy of a book of real quality gives us as much pleasure as watching the latest bestseller fly off our shelves" - Bill Noble, Book Shop ManagerThe Otago University Students Association took full ownership in 2004. While the bookshop meets the specialised needs of students and academics, it is primarily a bookshop for everyone. Throughout the year we run a programme of book launches and author events featuring celebrated international and New Zealand authors. We give back to the community that supports us – donating books to schools for fairs and sponsoring the Books for Babies scheme. Every baby born in Dunedin Public Hospital receives a free book and library membership.
|Starchroom, J. Romison & Co factory - University Book Shop building circa 1910 –Image source North Otago Museum The shop building was built in 1910 by the confectionery company Romison and Co. The triple-brick two-storied factory produced boiled sweets and chocolate tablets. The building’s architect was Edmund Anscombe, 1874 – 1948, ‘one of the most important figures to shape the architectural and urban fabric of New Zealand’ (NZ Dictionary of Biography). The business was sold in 1937 and under new ownership the factory became known as the Regina Confectionery factory. In 1957 Regina relocated to Oamaru. 378 Great King Street was sold once more. The new owners turned the building into a large garage that was known as the Otago Machinery Exchange. The University Book Shop moved into the building in 1962. Relics from former life-times include a hydraulic hoist - once employed in the confectionaey factory to shift trays of sweets. It continues to be used in the bookshop to move trolleys of books between floors!|
University Book Shop staff room 2011, Where Janet Frame typed up Landfall
for Charles Brasch in the 1960s
|During the 1960s the Landfall office was located in the building, in what is now the current staff room. This is where Janet Frame typed up Landfall for Charles Brasch the then-editor of the magazine. Charles Brasch left his mark – a still visible signature written in chalk on the fuse box.||
Landfall, v.1, no.1 (March 1947) - v.20, no.4 (December 1966).
|The first floor landing of the shop features portraits of writers by the painter and printmaker Eion Stevens, who had his studio in the bookshop building. Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Margaret Drabble, Dickens, W.H Auden, Graham Green and Evelyn Waugh are the subjects of these stylish, monochrome images.|
Prices appearing in this site are full retail prices, expressed in New Zealand dollars, and include 15% Goods & Services Tax (GST). Any student or other discounts which may apply are deducted at the point-of-sale. As this site is updated periodically, prices listed may sometimes not be current. For this reason we recommend checking with us before placing a firm order. Prices will not reflect availability of second-hand textbooks, ‘specials’, sale-priced items or remainders.