With the immediate convenience of downloading books to your device, these independent bookstores still have a place in our digital lives.
Whether you’re an avid reader and collector or you need to pass the time before after-work drinks, these Melbourne city bookshops will invite you to wander their aisles and share the love for written words.
The Paperback Bookshop
This late-night bookstore is at an intersection of restaurants and bars. After drinks at Gingerboy, Romeo’s Lane or any of the nearby hotspots, you’re at risk of being lulled into this tiny, densely-packed labyrinth of literature, where you may spend the rest of your night. All genres and titles fill every available crevice, including every inch of floor space not absolutely necessary for a walkway. If you need a last-minute gift on your way to someone’s birthday drinks, this place will save you. They stock gift cards and gift-wrap, so you can arrive looking prepared.
60 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 | (03) 9662 1396
City Basement Books
Underground, books lay on the floor, snaking around the base of the shelving. Tall, Jenga-like towers of books stack the ends of sections and scale the shorter shelves. Appearances deceive because the piles and jam-packed shelving are judiciously organised into sections and subsections from textbooks and journals to classic literature and nonfiction. Don’t go there with a specific title in mind. You’re better off aimlessly wandering the aisles and leaving your literary fate up to the secondhand book spirits (or following their Facebook and Twitter accounts for the latest arrivals).
342 Flinders St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 | (03) 9620 0428
Books for Cooks
Well-placed at Queen Victoria Market, you can use this niche bookstore for inspiration before your shopping trip through Deli Hall. Foodies, cookbook collectors and antiquarians and those who just love eating, will find rare, vintage and almost ancient books alongside newer titles covering any cuisine you can imagine. You’ll find cookbooks from around the world, and their Australian selection is extensive.
Queen Victoria Market, 129131 Therry Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 | (03) 8415 1415
If youve walked past their much-loved window displays, surely you’ve popped your head in here. This place is the home library you’ve always dreamed of (inside the Downton Abbey manor you’d love to own), with rolling ladders propped up against wooden shelving. The collection tends toward intellectual reads, though the space is unpretentious and welcoming. Don’t visit before payday. You’ll want to save your disposable income for a self-indulgent trip.
197203 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 | (03) 9662 2062
On the other end of the spectrum is a bookshop in the sky for creative types. It’s a slick, open space that feels like a designer’s home library. You’ll find both popular and obscure books mostly in the realm of graphic design, photography, art and architecture, but it’s a great spot to find regular fiction and nonfiction, including beautiful travel books and cookbooks, plus a range for kids. Tip: Watch out for those carefully curated products on the counter you’ll likely leave with a few extras.
Level 3, Curtin House, 252 Swanston St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 | (03) 9663 2015
Robinsons floor plan is spacious, and they stock a more mainstream selection than the previous mentions, though the interior and ambience give the space the warm, rustic vibe of a much smaller operation. It’s also a gift store and stocks merchandise and DVDs, plus a range of early childhood books and products. Remember lucky dip? If you like your books with a little mystery, try their ‘Blind Date With a Book’ shelf. These books are wrapped, giving no indication of what’s inside except for three descriptive words written by staff on the plain packaging.
Shop 3001, Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000 | (03) 9783 6488