With the rise of tech & seemingly endless hectic schedules, the decline of bookworms has seen our beloved bookstores copping an absolute beating, and in turn, so have the paper peddlers who lovingly traded them for oh-so-many years.
Melbourne is known for being a cultural epicentre for readers, writers and creatives in general, yet even with this going for them the few remaining bookstores must work hard to stay relevant in an ever-changing and brutal tech world. Don’t get me wrong; I love technology! But I also love paper books and diaries, sending snail mail and browsing musty old tomes for hours.
With this old-world charm in mind, we bring you our 17 top bookstores in Melbourne, and highly recommend you take the time to visit these charming and passionate businesses. Whether you buy your next favourite book or just relax in the stacks and get away from the world, each of these will be so happy to welcome a fellow book-lover into their midst.
629 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
Mon to Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 11am – 5pm
Since 1986 Alice’s has been a traditional ‘slow-bookshop’, buying and selling new and old books with a focus on literature, music, the arts, history, philosophy, psychology, gardening and children’s books, as well as a great collection of first edition literature, signed, and antiquarian books. A Carlton institution and home to browsers, thinkers, readers, dreamers, all are welcome at Alice’s.
127 Dundas Place, Albert Park
Daily: 9am – 7pm
5 times Independent Bookseller of the Year award winner, Avenue Bookstore first opened in Victoria Avenue, Albert Park in June 1986. Since moving to their current location on Dundas Place in 1993 and undergoing 3 major renovations, Avenue Bookstore Albert Park remains a favourite of Bayside locals, with the always helpful staff eager to offer recommendations when needed. They also have locations in Richmond & Elsternwick.
129-131 Therry Steet, Melbourne
Mon to Sat: 9am – 5pm
Sun: 10am – 5pm
Owners Amanda (former cook, caterer, cake maker and kitchen manager) and Tim (ex-lawyer and current bibliophile) purchased a tiny bookstore about wine and food in early 2000 and moved it to Gertrude St Fitzroy. After experiencing great popularity and growth over 16 years, in 2016 the crew moved to a very appropriate place in the Munro Buildings in the Queen Victoria Market. Here you will find antiquarian (as old as the 18th century!) and vintage books alongside the latest new books on food, wine and cooking.
Lower Ground Floor, 234 Collins Street, Melbourne
Mon to Wed: 9am – 6:30pm
Thu: 9am – 7pm
Fri: 9am – 9pm
Sat & Sun: 10am – 6pm
As much as you may want to have a little sook about a chain store making it onto this list, hear us out. Dymocks is not only the oldest Australian-owned bookstore, but they’re also a family owned business, so they’ve alright in our books (very punny). And how can you go past a range as ginormous as theirs?
197-203 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Mon to Wed: 9:30am – 6:30pm
Thu & Fri: 9.30am – 7pm
Sat & Sun: 10:30am – 5pm
Founded on the Sunshine Coast in sunny Queensland in 2008, they migrated to a lovely spot next to the State Library in Melbourne in 2011. Since then they have hosted hundreds of events with speakers as diverse as Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty to award-winning kids book author/illustrator Graeme Base. Come in for a browse and a coffee at the in-house café and enjoy the cosy surrounds.
294 Smith Street, Collingwood
Mon to Fri: 10:30am – 6pm
Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 11am – 5pm
You don’t get many bookstore owners with experience as broad as Chris Crouch, who has owned Polyester Records, Candle Records, and The Tramway Hotel, but it all comes together to form a store that is very easy to while away a few hours in. They focus on design and art books and stock an extensive range of new fiction, gifts and homewares.
The Assembly Hall Building, 156 Collins St, Melbourne
Mon to Thu: 10am – 6pm
Fri: 10am – 7pm
Sat: 10am – 4pm
Originating in 1965, what is known today as one of Melbourne’s best Antiquarian bookstores started as a family bric-à-brac venture in Essendon between Mum, Dad & Daughter trio Les, Muriel & Kay. After Les’s premature death 3 months later, the store had many moves, yet many moons later Kay is still the proud owner. Having moved in 1990 to their current (and awesome, if we may add) Neo-Gothic building on Collins Street, they’re a must-go-to if you have any interest whatsoever in being in the presence of heavy, leather-bound books or Antiquarian Booksellers Royalty (literally! Kay received a Queen’s Birthday honour in 2007 for services to the antiquarian book trade).
Level 3, Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Mon to Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Curtin House is one of those buildings in Melbourne that you just don’t know about unless a friend of a friend of your cousin’s super cool girlfriend mentions it, and the businesses inside are just as trendy. Metropolis is up on the 3rd floor, but it’s worth the hike (the elevator is notorious for being out-of-order in this building) because it’s jam-packed with all things arty. They have a huge range of coffee table books as well as gorgeous art, graphic design and photography books, right down to an entire section on tattooing.
748 High St, Thornbury
Wed-Sat: 12pm – 6pm
Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Perimeter Books is your go-to bookstore if you’re after small press books (lovingly curated from around the globe by owner Dan Rule) or a truly unique coffee table book if you’re wanting something other than the standard Chanel or Tom Ford. Not only is their selection stunning, but the space itself is too. It borrows from Japanese design methodology to make sure that the books are the artworks here.
309 Lygon St, Carlton
Mon-Sat: 9am – 11pm
Sun: 10am – 9pm
The Carlton Readings’ store was the first of the businesses’ shops to open in Melbourne and has been based on Lygon Street since opening in 1969. It’s current location, which is just across the road from Cinema Nova, is a hub for creatives and frequently hosts events and book signing with up and coming as well as renowned authors.
State Library Victoria, Cnr La Trobe and Swanston Streets, Melbourne
Mon-Sun: 10am – 6pm
Readings second location is actually based in the State Library of Victoria (a library within a library!) and was the very first bookshop allowed to be based within the State library. A great place to visit to take home some paper after being inspired in the library.
112 Acland Street, St Kilda
Mon-Sun: 10am – 9pm
The St Kilda location of Readings embodies all things ‘St Kilda’, with the standard Readings range of nonfiction, fiction, kids books, cook books, etc., as well as an impressive collection of vinyls and independently published works. It also has regular free in-store gigs and touts having served customers such as Nick Cave & Paul Kelly.
38 Chapel St, Windsor
Mon-Sun: 12pm – 5.30pm
Owned and operated by one of the coolest a quirkiest literary cats in Melbourne, Penny’s Syber Books (opposite Windsor Station on Chapel St) is a true haven for anyone want to find and spend time in a down to earth bookshop. There’s no shiny counters or fancy lounges here; just hundreds of books and the nicest staff in Melbourne.
With 3 stores in the city and 10 more stores in the suburbs and rural towns of Victoria, The Book Grocers are a real contender for becoming the next big thing. To top off their impressive spread of locations, you’ll find all books (online and in store) are always under $10, and it’s an Aussie family owned business to boot!
Level 2 Melbourne Central, Cnr LaTrobe and Swanson Streets, Melbourne
The Little Library is a community project run by Melbourne Central itself and aims to give back to the area that it’s based in. People are encouraged to take or read a book and in return either bring it back or leave one in its place. Although technically not a store, we adore the premise of this and urge you all to take part next time you’re in the area.
60 Bourke St, Melbourne
Mon-Thu: 9.30am – 10pm
Fri: 9.30am – 11.30pm
Sat: 11am – 11.30pm
Sun: 12pm – 7pm
Having been at the forefront of independent books since the 60’s, The Paperback Bookstore is an iconic Melbourne name and a fantastic source for fiction, Australian non-fiction and short run paperbacks. It’s also open close to midnight most of the week, so if you find you can’t sleep perhaps it’s prime-time to head on over to The Paperback and find some fellow insomniacs.
10 Ballarat Street, Yarraville
Mon-Sat: 9am – 9.30pm
Sun: 10am – 7.30pm
This little gem is a real winner for the people of the inner west and has become a magnet for literary types in recent years. They openly support local authors (who you’ll often find mixing with staff in store), and the Sun Theatre next door frequently hosts book clubs and author events.
Readers George St
What’s your favourite bookstore? Mention them in the comments below and let them know how awesome you think they are!