By way of describing what it is, exactly, that Gould’s is all about, the store’s official website just displays a few pictures of the interior on its “About Us” page. Each of the pictures shows the inside of a building that is literally covered in books. There are books stacked from the floor to the ceiling, books covering display shelves and racks, books lining the staircases that lead from the first to the second floor. And books just about everywhere else one could fit a book, paperback or hardcover.
Time Out Sydney described the store, which is located just 5 km from the city’s famous opera house and harbour bridge, this way: “A hurricane would do a better job of ordering their tens of thousands of books, but if you go in there with some time to kill and a keen eye, you’re bound to exit with armfuls of second-hand treasures.”
Bob Gould, the proprietor has been selling books in Sydney since 1967 and in Newtown, the current home of his store, since 1988. Gould often buys publishers’ remainders, which is why his stock is so large. He also buys books from people who wander into his store looking to get rid of already-read volumes that they no longer have room to store. He believes that having a wide range of books is best for his customers; they’ll never leave without finding something that might interest them.
“Our shop is about the size of two singles tennis courts, and the books are in broad subject areas, so allow a bit of time,” Gould’s Book Arcade’s official website warns. “Newtown, as well as being renowned for its many bookshops, is also known for its great variety of cheap restaurants, and many of our customers make a night of it.” So, if you’re in the area, plan a trip to Newtown - for the food and for the books.
Bob Gould passed away on 22 May 2011. He was 74 years old. His family reopened the store a few hours after his death as it was what he would have wanted, and it has remained in business to this day.
Update July 2018: Gould’s is moving soon. See the website for details.