Haunted Bookshop & Ghost Tour

Weird and wordy

Herald Sun Weekend book section, 9 February, 2002 pp 29
By Shaunagh O'Connor, books editor

Drew SintonThere's a book for everything, no matter how odd. Shaunagh O'Connor looks at what's available.

Just fallen in love? There's a book out there to help you plan your wedding.

Just broken up? Shelves of self-help books will help you navigate the land between sobbing mess and your old confident self.

Want to build a mud hut, groom a dog, bake a cake, lose weight or put it on? Grab a book on the topic.

No matter what you want to know, it would be safe to put all the money you've ever earned on a bet that someone has written a book on the topic.

These range from the obscure - Magnificent Molas: The Art of the Kuna Indians about the handcrafts of a tribe of Indians living on coral islands off Panama's Atlantic coast - to the downright bizarre.

Take Build Your Own Hindenburg one for the handyman. There's The Romance of Cement a fancy title for a book about building material, Macrame Gnomes and The Art of Faking Exhibition Poultry.

They're all real titles. Whether anyone bought them is anybody's guess.

State Library of Victoria rare books librarian Brian Hubber has a theory on why such books are created.

"Something like Songs of a Chartered Accountant is probably just a personal enthusiasm," he says.

"Obviously a lot of these titles lack good editorial input, and a lot of them are deliberately strange. Why someone would write The Who's Who of Barbed Wire I don't know, but there are a lot of barbed wire nuts out."

Hubber estimates there are 1.5 million titles on his library's shelves, with at least one book around to touch on every subject that potential readers name.

"There's probably several. Hundreds of queries come in here a week and it's pretty rare that we can't find something about a subject in the library," he says.

"But a lot of the more obscure subjects now go on to the Net. Authors can start up their own web page and they don't have to write books like that. So the Net's taken over a lot from small-scale publications."

Someone who makes a living from the weird and wacky of the publishing world is Melbourne bookseller Drew Sinton.

Owner of The Haunted Bookshop in the city, he specialises in books on the occult, the mystical and the eerie.

He stocks Vampires, Burial and Death, The Lore of the Unicorn and The Secret Life of a Satanist. A bestseller for Sinton is a book that sells a copy a month. A book launch at his shop generally means four copies of the book may sell.

"One woman was searching for A Soul's Journey and had looked in 20 shops for it, and I stocked it," he says.

"A title like that, you may sell one every two years. You don't rely on volume to make a living."

His classics include The Psychopath's Bible, A History of Torture and The Malleus Maleficarum the current printing of a centuries-old manual for witch hunters.

While there are those who seek literary oddities, there are those at the far end of the spectrum: they come to a book shop looking for something other than books.

"Someone wanted to know how to get rid of a vampire. They didn't want to buy a book, they just wanted someone to come and wave a magic wand."

Other Haunted Bookshop offerings you might enjoy ...

"Dark and fascinating bookshop"
- Citysearch

"Melbourne's hidden treasure"
- Herald Sun

"A gothic Black Books"
- Chelsea Kwok, Adelaide

Drew Sinton
Witches Bible
Satanic Bible
Gothic Grimoire
Real MIB
Psychic's Handbook
Rider Waite

"When you have bought your fill of paranormal books, tarot cards and occult jewellery, you can come back at 8.30 pm on a Saturday for one of Sinton's very popular ghost walk tours of Melbourne" - Narrelle Harris, author Witch Honour

ENQUIRIES 9670 2585

Haunted Bookshop map


ABN 69 079 705 776


15 McKillop Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000

(03) 9670 2585

Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday
12 noon - 5.30 pm


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