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Melbourne's favourite local bookstores

Since the advent of the e-book, there has been a lot of doom and gloom about the future of the local bookstore. Despite these pessimistic predictions, bricks-and-mortar bookshops remain vital parts of the communities in which they operate

Photograph: Jess Kneebone

Good bookshops offer expertly curated ranges and equally expert staff. Very few other shopkeepers can rival the knowledge and passion booksellers have for their treasures. Hand written endorsements, honest discussion and that blissful sense of tranquility all help make bookshops wonderful places to idle away an afternoon. But, of course, they can be great for last minute gifts, and other panic purchases, which is why it’s so helpful when they have no minimums on card payments. It’s a little thing, but it’s definitely a factor in making these seven booksellers so superlative.


Metropolis Bookshop

Renowned for its collection of specialist graphic design, architecture, photography, fashion and art books, Metropolis is something of a Melbourne institution. Hidden snug in the creative hub of Curtin House, Metropolis also offers a thoughtfully selected fiction, nonfiction, children's books, cooking and craft titles, and access to global book databases. They’re always prepared to take special orders for titles that they don’t ordinarily stock. It’s a lovely space full of great people.

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Brunswick St Bookstore

The Brunswick Street Bookstore has been attracting loyal customers for almost thirty years. Offering a cherry picked range of new releases, classic fiction and nonfiction titles, this bookstore is perfect for browsing, and it’s highly likely you’ll find your next favourite read standing proudly on its shelves. The store offers a great range of art and design titles, as well as architecture, cooking, gardening and travel books. Most importantly, the passionate, friendly and educated staff are always happy to chip in their two cents with fantastic recommendations – sometimes it feels like they’ve read everything in the store.

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Readings: Carlton

Situated on the beautiful and bustling Lygon St, Readings Carlton is a Melbourne institution. Boasting an expansive and celebrated selection of titles, it caters for all manner of readers, from those after a dose of blockbuster fiction to people’s whose tastes tend toward the niche, or very niche. Readings was recently awarded ‘Bookstore of the Year’ at the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards, and even a fleeting glance at their shelves or brief chat with their booksellers affirms how deserving they are of the title.

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Hill of Content

Hill of Content has all the characteristics of a quintessential bookstore. Across two elegant and serene levels, the cozy shop features a broad yet considered range of contemporary fiction and non-fiction titles, along with an expansive selection of international imports. The staff talk with all the fervor and knowledge you’d expect of an established bookshop – it first opened its doors in 1922 – making it one of the best in town for casual browsing.

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Books for Cooks

If you’re looking for books about food, this is where you’ll find them. Books for Cooks is Australia’s most noted culinary bookshop, neighbouring one of Melbourne’s most iconic food destinations – the Queen Vic markets. With an award winning collection of over 40,000 specialist titles on wine, food and the culinary arts – Books for Cooks supplies both chefs and novices with contemporary and classic food related literature. Plus, Books for Cooks is run by cooks, so the recommendations served up are extra tasty.

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Happy Valley Shop

Happy Valley opened its doors in 2014, but this relatively newcomer is a welcome addition to Smith St, Collingwood. Specialising in niche publications, the store offers a thoughtfully curated collection of titles, and non-bound gems from around the world. Owner Chris Crouch, previously of Polyester Records and the Tramway Hotel, has hand selected each piece in the shop. The vibe is slick and the bookshelves brim with independent and unexpected reads from illustrative cookbooks to classic fiction. Stop by this inner-city hangout if you’re looking for something contemporary and out of the ordinary.

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The Little Bookroom (Carlton)

Bookshops are magical places, and the Little Bookroom is a fine example of providing that magic to adults and children alike. Stocking everything from picture books for toddlers to young adult fiction, comics, graphic novels and a carefully curated range of fiction and non-fiction for adults, the Little Bookroom has been supplying tomes to locals since the 1960s. Card use is encouraged, with no minimum spend or extra fees for card use.

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Carlton North

Avoca Hill Bookstore

South Yarra’s Avoca Hill Bookstore is a little slice of paradise for booklovers. Stocking all the latest fiction and non-fiction releases as well as a large range of design books, the staff at this store know how to hook up locals with the best books in the market. Cards are welcomed for all purchases, from small books for children to more expensive cookbooks.

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South Yarra