Melbourne is bursting with brilliant bookshops… it was hard to whittle it down to 5. Actually I felt like stretching it to 10 at one stage but that wouldn’t be much of a shortlist would it?
The following 5 are my favourites for design/art/architecture browsing. (And I do a lot more browsing than buying). They all also have a great selection of magazines, as well as fiction, kids stuff etc etc.
In no particular order:
Metropolis Bookshop – Level 3 Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, City
Open Mon – Thurs 10am – 6pm, Fri 10am – 7pm, Sat 10am – 6pm, Sun 12 – 5pm
When Metropolis moved from St Kilda to Curtin House in the city I was convinced it was a crazy idea and would never take off. I mean… no foot traffic… no late night trading. I used to drive down to Acland st with my Mum and browse after work… we were devastated when they finally closed. BUT I stand corrected! It was Metropolis that really kick-started the regeneration of Curtin House… a string of painfully cool businesses followed suit, and these days Curtin House enjoys legendary status amongst most Melburnians. Anyway, aside from its location, Metropolis is a truly GREAT bookshop, the space is airy and stunning, the selection of books, magazines and now music is second to none, the staff are super friendly and more than happy to let you browse to your hearts content… just take a good deep breath before heading up those endless stairs.
Coventry Bookstore – 265 Coventry st, South Melbourne
I just wrote about Coventry Bookstore in my South Melbourne Gift Guide… nothing new to say really… Just a gorgeous little bookstore… particularly good for pretty interiors books (not so much pure architecture)… friendly staff and a really warm, inviting interior.
Avenue Bookstore – 127 Dundas Place, Albert Park
Let me first say that the Avenue Bookstore has one of the best selections of any bookshop in Melbourne… you could easily lose a whole day there browsing the shelves. The new-ish section up the back is devoted entirely to the art/design-y books, and really does offer such a feast of beautiful publications you’ll be spoilt for choice. HOWEVER i cannot write about this wonderful shop without mentioning an awful experience I did have there last year that has honestly marred my opinion of this shop. To cut to the chase, I was browsing for quite some time in the graphic design books section, and felt inspired to jot down the titles and authors of some of my favourite finds… (not, of course, being able to buy every single item I fell in love with). I was eyed with suspicion for quite some time by a snobbish staff member who then finally plucked up the courage to reprimand me quite severely for browsing for too long and ‘taking notes’. I responded by purchasing a very expensive book at the main counter and making sure the rest of the staff down there were well aware of this embarrassing experience. To their credit they were mortified and seemed genuinely shocked! I haven’t seen the offending staff member again and I hope she isn’t there anymore. That’s all I will say. Anyway, the store is too lovely to blacklist. So please don’t let me put you off! They also have a great selection of kids books, magazines and beautiful cards.
Amendment 16/5/08 : I have recently received a lovely email from The Avenue Bookstore… they were sincerely apologetic for the negative experience mentioned above! They also mentioned that the offending staff member is no longer with the store. So please do pay this fantastic store a visit… and feel free to browse away to your heart’s content!
NGV bookshop – Fed Square, Swanston st, City
Open 10am – 5pm everyday, Thursdays until 9pm
That man in the fantastic green jacket just really wanted to be in my photo. Well… I took about 10 photos at the NGV bookshop and he’s in at least 7 of them. So I thought it was only fair to make sure he didn’t end up on the cutting room floor :)
Clientele aside, the NGV bookshop has a great selection of art books (as you’d suspect), but also a brilliant array of interior, architecture, graphic design books and the like. There’s also some great other gifty things – Mud ceramics, interesting jewellery and accessories, and a really cute kids section. Again, also a great selection of local and international magazines… and lovely staff who were only too happy to let me take some photos for the site. Love that! (although I have recently become quite expert at covert photography).
Brunswick st Bookstore – 305 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Open 10am – 11pm everyday
Brunswick st Bookstore has been around since 1987 apparently. Which is waaaay before Fitzroy was a ‘cool’ as it is now. Now that’s foresight. In 2003 they opened up their light-filled first floor which enabled them to increase the art/design/architecture section significantly. It’s a lovely space, the range is fantastic, and again they have great selection of local and international mags… also they’re open 10am til 11pm everyday which means you’ll never be stuck on Brunswick st without somewhere nice to wait for your dinner date. But the best news is that coming up on Saturday March the 8th their annual sale starts with massive reductions on art, architecture, photography and graphic design books, as well as 10% off all other stock in the store! wicked.