“Lines & shelves & corridors & halls & nooks of books. My favourite book shop.”
Located on the ground floor of John Mills Himself, a heritage-listed building in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, Archives Fine Books is one of the largest second-hand bookstores in Australia. Our size means we are like a number of specialty stores in one: literature, philosophy, politics, sport, military history, westerns, Australiana, esoterica, religion, law, business, science, science fiction, fantasy, popular fiction, biography, music, quilting…the list goes on…and on.
“Everything you want a bookstore to be really; crowded, quiet and scented with that wonderful smell that says great ideas have been captured in pages that are stored here.”
Established in 1985 by the well-remembered Emmanuel, the store has been cared for by a handful of unique personalities, each one contributing to its reputation as a Brisbane icon. Hamish Alcorn bought the business in 2008 and since then has organised more than half a million books, weathered the GFC, the e-book revolution, and survived freak storms and floods. He also married Dawn Albinger and has strongly supported her vision to build the antiquarian and ‘Fine’ end of the business. Together they plan to keep the doors open for decades to come, contributing to the intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic life of Brisbane City.
“It’s like Dr Who’s Tardis, tiny on the outside, huge wonderland once you’re in the door. And the smell of old books permeates to the soul! Love love love.”
One of our key features is a substantial assembly of scarce, unusual, and collectible books. Here on the website we feature our antiquarian books and other treasures, adding new titles regularly. We hope you enjoy browsing our unique collection.
“If heaven exists, then I found it. The address is 40 Charlotte Street Brisbane.”
John Mills Himself
John Mills was a Brisbane printer who originally traded in Adelaide Street as Mills and Green, printers and stationers. After this partnership dissolved he traded alone as John Mills Himself. With business expanding during WWI he was able to acquire the Charlotte Street site (1918) where he demolished an existing cottage and erected two new brick buildings (1919-20). By the 1920s business was well established, attracting clients such as popular Australian author Steele Rudd, and John Mills leased a part of the buildings to other related businesses (Gresham Publishing Company Ltd, Press Etching Company, block-makers, process-engravers, map-makers, watchmakers, lantern-slide makers and clothing manufacturers).
After his death in 1934, the business was continued by his sons, John and Sam Mills. The property remained in the Mills family until the 1980s and in recent years it has been occupied by a variety of tenants associated with the Arts. Last year we met one of the few living employees of the Mills family who told us that there are four former employees who continue to meet once a year and share a drink. Apparently the Mills were excellent employers.
The building is now owned by the Australia Koala Foundation.
We currently own three titles published by John Mills Himself: Reflections by W.H.C. (Will H. Clarke, n.d.), Secrets Revealed by J.W. Crsbie (n.d.) and Journey into Desolation by Queensland politician Bruce Pie (n.d.). Pie was in London on Armistice Day 1945 and, after cutting through some administrative red-tape, was granted permission to travel through the smoking ruins of war-torn Europe. Journey into Desolation is his journal of that tour. These three items can be viewed on request but are not for sale.