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Fed Square Book Market

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by Chris Shepherdson (subscribe)
I'm a copywriter and freelance writer living in Melbourne. My novel, Another New York Murder, is available online.
Published October 15th 2013
A fitting tribute to our very own UNESCO City of Literature
Melbourne is many things good and bad but its standing as a City of Literature, something many of us are not aware of, is something of which we should all be proud. My fanatic collecting of books is something of which my wife thinks is a symptom of borderline hoarding; I call it a tribute to the good people of UNESCO who bestowed this magnificent honour on my magnificent city.

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As part of this responsibility I make it a habit to keep the trade of second hand books alive and there are few better places to do this than the weekly Book Fair at Federation Square. A bibliophile heaven where a handful of second hand book vendors gather to sell their wares and –as most second hand book vendors do- share their stories and discuss the favourites of what they are selling. Bookshops may be in danger –indeed the city is seeing their ranks thin alarmingly- but coming here is like taking shelter with a fragile herd of zebras hiding from predators: the same online predators that have thinned their ranks.

Some of the pricing shows the vendors as being a little too attached to their wares. For example, the 19th printing of The Catcher in the Rye have a significance of which I am unaware but most remain within the realm of reasonable second hand commerce. After all, this is a meagre tariff to pay to be in such wondrous bibliophilic surroundings.

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Dive in


After some acquisitions of Auster and Updike as well some of my newer discoveries like Joseph Mitchell, John O'Hara and William Gaddis, my bag was weighing heavily. A signed Franzen assigned an unwelcome heft to my satchel. These shoulder mounted fashion accessories are ill-equipped to deal with such logistics. A sweat began forming from something more than the weather. It was equal parts exertion and worry. Where would the rest of the expected booty go? I was only two stands in. There were a good half dozen more still yet to be touched by my wondering eye. I was starting to doubt if I would fit the desired booty on me. Maybe I could hire a railway locker like in a heist movie. I decided to carry on figuring a tote bag would somehow materialise. It was hot anyway, people were sweating everywhere.

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Some Perfect Light Reading for the Beach


To the ATM then, and then to the stand with the Sedaris, then maybe that copy of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle that I'd been eyeing but putting off reading for a long time, it's well- worn condition brought the price to a sub tenner, meaning breaking a fifty. Only one solution then, another Nabokov and –what the hell- an e.e. cummings (lower case deliberate as fans of e.e. will know). The guy then does me a good deal on all three and what do you know, the bag I have been longing for materialises as he reads my sweat as standard book carrying exertion, obviously a sweat he was well familiar with, bless him!

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They don't write 'em like this anymore


Chuffed with the level of customer service that is coming my way from this fine man I grab a Richard Yates I hadn't noticed earlier, probably pulled from a box to fill the many gaps I was making on his trestle. Just then I noticed the green shopping bag he had handed me was now establishing its own sudden heaviness. I couldn't expect to be blessed again so I made my way across the road to Flinder Street station.

Til we meet again Fed Square Book Fair.

The Federation Square Book Market is on in The Atrium at Federation Square every Saturday from 11am to 5pm.
Check website for info on Fed Square Book Clubs and Poetry readings.
Entry is free.
Bring some spare bags

More info at www.fedsquare.com/books
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Why? A fitting tribute to our very own UNESCO City of Literature
When: Every Saturday 11AM - 5PM
Phone: 03 9655 1900 (Fed Square) 03 9655 1919 (Stall expressions of interest)
Where: The Atrium, Federation Square, Melbourne
Cost: Entry Free
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