Every surface is covered, volumes stacked ceiling-high, and the book I want is on the bottom of the top stack. Of course. If it wasn't so clean it would feel like a hoarders house, but instead it's cosy, chaotic. We are metres from Parliament, this is probably some of the most expensive real estate in Melbourne. Outside a homeless man is trying to use a pay phone.
Established as an independent general bookstore in the 60s, the Paperback Bookshop is a home to all of those who are not ready to go home, like its neighbour Pellegrini's. In such a small space, never have I been alone as the only customer, and more often than not there is a heated literary debate or otherwise discussion going on about a favourite obscure book. Probably also on the bottom of the top stack, as is invariably the case. Tonight I overheard discussion of somebody recounting a interview that somebody (the author of the book being discussed) had done with Stravinsky, in Paris, that had flitted between French, English and Russian in the hopes of find the exact right word to express the meaning. Apparently it's incredible. I am most closely tempted by the new Hannah Kent, before remembering the precariously leaning tower of books on my nightstand. I pickup a new copy of the Monthly instead.
It's a postage stamp, but it defines this corner of the city. Happily coexisting with Grossi Florentino, the up market Marais and the perpetually empty Red Pepper Restaurant.
It's open late, I couldn't tell you the exact hours but at least until after dinner. 11.30 on Fridays I believe. It's warm in winter, still comforting in summer and, although it is completely tiny, never have I not been able to find a book I've wanted. They have all of the latest literary releases, the popular ones too, and of course (for any shop specialising in paperbacks) a wide selection of classics.
Do not miss this corner of quiet wonder in the big city. Drop in, stay a while, buy a book. For those who have known home in the pages of a book, you will recognise the place.
If you're not in Melbourne, they also have a website here.