Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published November 18th 2012
Books will never die but they may take a walk
Readers Feast now in Georges
This is to alert you to a bookish corner in Melbourne. Three pillars of Melbourne's literary community have formed an almighty alliance. Standing strong and iconic in historic Collins Street.
Who said books were going under! These institutions live on. Hooray!
The new kid on the block, but in a very old building, is Reader's Feast which has moved into the stunning old Georges building. Now it is in regal surroundings lit by chandeliers in what was once Melbourne's poshest department store. Reader's Feast takes up the whole of the mezzanine floor stretching from Collins through to Little Collins Street.
Bookish ones will remember that prior to this and for twenty years prior Reader's Feast was in a dungeon, reached by a daunting downward escalator on the corner of Bourke and Swanston. Then sadly last year the shop folded
The story of the resurrection and the move to new heights is an inspiring one. The book store was caught up in the the collapse of Red Group Australia who owned the store at that time.
The manager Mary Dalmau had survived five previous owners and looked around a her highly valued and long serving staff and decided to make a go of it in some new premises. "I do not subscribe to the view that bookstores will not survive the new world of electronic books and internet buying," she said.
So here she is with her remarkably knowledgeable staff. Up from the dungeon to the dizzying heights of the Paris end of Collins Street. As Mary says of herself and I heartily concur "Our business has been through enormous change in the past twelve months. To have survived that and opened on Collins Street is a story of tenacity, belief in the longevity of books in printed form, and the passion for books our twenty-one booksellers continues to hold dear."
Well known Melbourne writer Barry Dickens have a chat a the Athenaeum
One of the neighbours is the Athenaeum lending library, which has been in Collins Street since 1839. It was there well before the State Library, which makes it Melbourne's oldest library. If you work in the city this is where you can go for mental stimulation as they often have interesting speakers. It is also a lending library with a huge collection of classic and current fiction, plus non-fiction titles in areas such as history and travel. The subscription costs $99 a year ($89) concession - for which you can borrow 30 items at any one time. That should satisfy a few voracious tram readers.
Address: 188 Collins St, 1st floor, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Phone: 9650 3100
Stop 3: Kay Craddock's Antiquarian Bookshop
Display of collectable crime titles for Crime and Justice Festival
If you can't buy it new, and you can't borrow it from the library, or if you simply have to have it and don't want to give it back (which is probably more to the point) then Kay Craddock's is the place to go. This amazing old world bookshop is the third prong in formidable literary triad. This bookshop has to be seen to be believed. It is simply Dickensian. People go there just to smell the whiff of really old books, some dating back to the 15th century. This is where collectors go to buy rare books and first editions. Fascinating, and well worth the visit.
Address: 156 Collins Street
Phone: 9654 8506
With the alliance of these three great bookish places you can expect lots of up and coming literary events. They just colluded for the Crime and Justice Festival with Reader's Feast organising events such as High Tea with Kerry Greenwod, the Athenaeum organising talks and Kay Craddock's window displaying a fascinating array of detective collectables.
The next venture is 'Hands in Print' in which writers' hands will be rendered in brass and placed on the Reader's Walk literary precinct which is where these three bookish places are sited.
This walk was officially launched on 16 November at the Athenaeum Library to coincide with the launch of Reader's Feast's annual Crime & Justice Festival. The first 'Hands in Print' inductee was Scottish author Ian Rankin. Mary Dalmau described it as "marrying the tactile world with the world of writers' imaginations'."
How wonderful that people are willing to invest in bricks and mortar bookstores still. I'm guilty of buying online sometimes, but nothing makes the heart soar quite like spending as long as you want browsing shelves of real books.
I look forward to visiting all three when I'm in Melbourne next.