Readings set to open new chapter in CBD

By Brendan Rees

A new Readings bookshop is set to open in Melbourne’s CBD, with managing director Mark Rubbo rejoicing that the city would no longer have lockdowns “hanging over our heads”.  

While the independent Australian bookshop retailer saw revenue plunge by as much as 60 per cent at its State Library store during the pandemic, Mr Rubbo said he was hopeful of the city bouncing back after it was set free from the world’s longest lockdown. 

“It’s a bit of a gamble but I think the city will come back. This opportunity came up, so we’ve been negotiating since March,” he said.  

Mr Rubbo said the new store was currently being built and would be ready to open its doors by December at the Emporium shopping centre on Lonsdale St.

“It’s really exciting, we’re working on the range at the moment. We’ve got a lovely big children’s section, art and design, and great fiction and non-fiction sections.”

Mr Rubbo said online sales were “not enough” for trading to remain viable during lockdown, but he was “looking forward to opening up” and book lovers being able to inhale the crisp aroma of new books while browsing in-store.

“It’s going to be great not having threats of lockdowns hanging over our heads,” he said, adding he was backing the city’s revival and passionate readers returning to the CBD and celebrating the city’s literary culture.

The new bookshop at Emporium will be Readings’ eighth Melbourne store, with its State Library and Doncaster stores having remained closed during the sixth lockdown while the other shops transitioned online.  

The Emporium bookshop has been designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects whose projects include an Aesop store also at Emporium, Broadmeadows Town Hall, primary schools, a police station, and a CBD restaurant.

“It’s been wonderful to work with them, they use different qualities and high-quality, innovative things. We can’t wait to see what it looks like,” Mr Rubbo said.

“Part of the brief to Kerstin Thompson was to create a space that people would really love being in and make it a real community hub for the CBD.”

“The front will be quite striking, people may possibly think we’re crazy,” he said referring to the shop window which has been proposed to display the back covers of books with a certain “mystery about it”.

“I hope it will be a good contribution to Melbourne because Melbourne is an UNESCO city of literature.”

City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Nick Reece said the news of a new Readings bookshop was “so exciting”.

“Readings is not just an iconic bookshop, it is a ‘happy place’ for so many Melburnians, and this new store will give people even more reason to visit the Emporium,” he said.

“The timing is perfect with Melbourne retail re-opening, Christmas coming, and all of us looking for a good book to read over summer.”

“Readings will be a magnet for shoppers, so it will benefit all the retailers in the Emporium, which is great.” •

Picture: Readings managing director Mark Rubbo is excited to open a new bookshop at the Emporium shopping centre.

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