Wednesday 20 April 2016

Fed Square Book Market - the ordinary amidst the extraordinary?

It’s like an unbreakable ritual. Week after week, since time immemorial (pardon the exaggerated expression), a group of passionate book vendors gathered under the marvelous glazed roof of Atrium to create a literature’s space for the serious bibliophiles and casual book browsers.

Pause here, for I have a confession to make. I am struggling, at this very moment, to come out with the right words to describe a book market of such kind.  Sure, it is a precious little place for book lovers to perform some explorative exercise, and if luck strikes, you might stumble on a few gems or two. But apart from that, the book market is just so ordinary, that I am almost at a loss of words.

Does the book market offer the best bargain in town? No, it does not. Sure, there are plenty of second-hand books with reasonable good condition available. You might even discover a few surprising finds of brand new books with relatively cheaper price than your regularly frequented bookstore chains. But most of the time, a simple online search will yield numerous results providing better options to obtain the same products with lower value.

Does the book market offer anything unique, such as certain inaccessible vintage or archaic books that have long been disappeared from the popular bookshelves in town? Maybe, but highly unlikely, especially in this era where online bookstores are ubiquitously prevailing in the cyber world.

Is the collection of books so massive that you can almost guarantee to grab one home in delight by the end of the visit? Not quite. The number of stalls are limited and it will probably take you less than an hour to complete your books hunting trip. Sure, the selection of books is amazing, with wide array of topics and types ranging from colourful children books, antique picture books, cookbooks for the busy mums, specialty books for the serious learners, intriguing fictions, and timeless classic. But is there any exclusively special characteristic that sets the book market apart from any ordinary bookstores in town in terms of the book genres offered? Probably no.

Having said that, does the book market worth a visit? A “yes”, for sure. There is certain inexplicable charm to this book market held within the modern arcade of Atrium. Take a stroll along the stalls, speak to the vendors, and get personalized recommendation from the veteran booksellers on some good books. These might be the very few elements missing from the contemporary retail bookstores nowadays staffed with casual workers and part-time students.

So pay a visit, form your own views on this weekly book market, and correct me if your opinions differ.


The Atrium, Federation Square
Swanston Street, Melbourne

Date and time:

Every Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm

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