South African bookshop a treasure trove of eclectic history A pedestrian passes the Collectors Treasury in Johannesburg, South Africa. The three-story bookshop owned by brothers Jonathan and Geoff Klass, is dedicated to preserving history and nostalgia. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
South African bookshop a treasure trove of eclectic history
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The only clue to a literary treasure trove tucked away in downtown Johannesburg in South Africa is a fading sign. But behind this door is a fantastic maze containing an estimated 2 million books and prints.
 
The Collectors Treasury, a three-story bookshop owned by brothers Jonathan and Geoff Klass, is dedicated to preserving history. It contains everything from VHS tapes of classic TV to porcelain trinkets, but above all books are prized.
 
"It is the symbol of the history of the human race," says Geoff Klass.
 
The collection is vast and eclectic. It includes yellowing news clippings, posters and first editions of John Updike, Alice Walker and H.G. Wells along with Enid Blyton's beloved children's series "Noddy."
 
It's also getting more traffic as downtown Johannesburg is rejuvenated. The bookstore is now on the hipster trail of the trendy Maboneng district with its art galleries and rooftop markets.
 
Visitors thread single file between overflowing shelves and stacks of books.
 
Biographies of Leon Trotsky and Humphrey Bogart sit alongside the story of Wham.  That's the '80s British pop group that launched George Michael's career.
 
Another room holds fraying antique books, some dating from the 16th century. There are heaps of non-fiction books. They range from angling journals to contemporary Russian art.
 
"It's a landscape of books rather than shelves of books," said Los Angeles set designer David Chow, who learned about the shop online. He set aside a whole day of his trip to explore it.
 
The Klass brothers have embraced the Internet as a portal to new customers. But they remain devotees of the printed page.
 
Their collection also features a copy of the manuscript of George Orwell's "1984," scribbled, corrected and typed over as the author crafted the classic.
 
"What would have happened if he had been writing it on a word processor?" asks Geoff Klass.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do visitors thread single file between stacks of books?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (33)
  • shaelyng-ver
    2/19/2016 - 11:27 p.m.

    I think it's great that the brothers are keeping track of all these books. It is a smart way to go in depth with human evolution.

  • claires-ver
    2/22/2016 - 10:15 a.m.

    This book shop is preserving history through staying steadfast in changing times

  • billiem-1-bar
    2/23/2016 - 08:09 p.m.

    Visitors thread single file between stacks of books because of what information the books contain. They have the history of literary treasure in them. This was interesting because of how far back in history we have living evidence of and people get to go visit it and look at it.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    2/25/2016 - 11:59 p.m.

    Visitors thread single file between stacks of books because people cherish the history in books. In paragraph 9, it states that a,"Los Angeles set designer (named) David Chow, who learned about the shop online. Set aside a whole day of his trip to explore it." If one person would travel all the way to South Africa and dedicate one whole day at a cool, hipster bookshop, then I don't see why other people would not do the same thing. Therefore, visitors thread single file between stacks of books because people from all over the globe cherish the history in books. This article makes me want to go to this cool, South-African book. This article interested me because I think there should be more family owned and operated shops, so that all of the big companies don't take over.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    2/27/2016 - 05:07 p.m.

    I think that it is good that the Collectors Treasury are preserving many books and prints. They have many great classic and well-known books that people might not get to read or forget. There are tons of prints and books in the bookshop. I think that visitors thread single file between stacks of books because there are many interesting books and prints to go and read or look at. There are many well-known books that are even from the 16th century.

  • madisons.-tay
    2/29/2016 - 12:36 p.m.

    They thread single file because there is not enough room for more than one person to be there at one time.

  • peytond.-tay
    2/29/2016 - 12:36 p.m.

    This was a neat story to see because my love of reading and books

  • kaylae.-tay
    2/29/2016 - 12:37 p.m.

    They have to because there are so many books that there is only so much room to walk.

  • emmal.-tay
    2/29/2016 - 12:40 p.m.

    Single file is a much neater way to easily through the books. It probably keeps people calmer than they would be just roaming around. They want everyone to be calm and respectful towards the books because they are such an important piece of our history.

  • joer.-tay
    2/29/2016 - 12:45 p.m.

    There is no room for 2 people so it's single file.

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