Today in Australia is National Bookshop Day and I am celebrating by writing about my favourite
independent bookshop chain – Readings, and telling you a little bit of its history.
Readings began in 1969 as a stand alone shop at 366 Lygon Street in Carlton by Ross Readings, his partner Dot and Peter Reid. In the early days Dot’s teachiing wage would help fund the shop and on days that left the shelves bare, Ross and Dot where known to occasionally re-stoke them with items from their own private library.
In 1976, Mark Rubbo brought the business with Greg Young and Steve Smith. Mark was also the owner of Professor Longhairs’ Music Shop, while the other two owned the South Yarra Record Collector and the other a mail-order music business. In 1983, Readings relocated to a larger premise on Lygon Street leading to a boom in business throughout the 80s and 90s. One final move into the former Commonwealth Bank building in 1998, across the road from where it was situated.
Readings currently has five shops located around Melbourne: State Library of Victoria, Hawthorn, Carlton, St. Kilda and Malvern. It offers free shipping Australia-wide and each shop is individual in its own way.
Readings Carlton is the ‘iconic’ one, being a meeting place for writers, publishers, artists and intellectuals alike.
Readings St Kilda is the ‘artsie’ one, being home in the site of the former independent bookshop Cosmos as well has having a back-catalogue of famous clientele such as Paul Kelly and Nick Cave.
Readings Hawthorn is the ‘community hub’ for events and groups alike. There have been major author events and several book groups.
Readings Malvern is the ‘friendly’ one, known for its customer service and exellent selection of books for its community. In 2006, Readings Malvern won a Local Trader Award for Best Bookseller in the City of Stonnington.
Finally Readings State Library of Victoria is the ‘historic’ one because in the libraries 150 years in operation, Readings is the first ever bookshop that has been allowed to set up residency in the unique space.
As a writer, library technician, reader and bibliophile I love a good bookstore. My dream one day is to travel overseas to visit some famous ones, in what I am dubbing my ‘Bookstore Bucketlist’. They are:
- The Strand, New York
- Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina
- Foyles, England
- Waterstones, England
- Shakespeare & Co, Paris
Until then, Readings to satisfy my read-ings habbits will do just fine.
Happy Bookshop Day!