Far from grubby is Grub Street Bookshop

A Fitzroy institution boasting more than 35 years of history, the Grub Street Bookshop is the perfect embodiment of a second-hand bookshop.

In the heart of Brunswick Street, the bookshop’s name has its origins in 19th century England where Grub St in London was home to aspiring writers and low-end publishers.

The Grub Street Bookshop on Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Photo: Nicholas Nakos

Today, the Grub Street Bookshop hopes to cultivate community engagement with aspiring writers by making it not only the home of a vast array of literature, but also a community hub for readers and writers alike.

Noir at the Bar is one initiative that co-owner Regan Brantley has brought to life as part of a recent revamp of the bookshop.

“Noir is a group of Melbourne’s best noir fiction stylists reading their works to an audience in an intimate setting,” Ms Brantley said.

“Nights like Noir at the Bar make our space multi-functional. We want to be more than just a bookshop,” Brantley said.

The collection at the Grub Street Bookshop is indeed more than a smorgasboard of recycled books.

“We don’t like to see books as old or used and we are selective about the titles we purchase,” Brantley said.

This selectivity is what makes the Grub Street Bookshop a refreshing change to the stereotypical second-hand bookshop.

The curation of titles and careful selection of works ensures that Ms Brantley and her co-conspirators have expert knowledge in particular genres. For Ms Brantley, one such specialty area is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTI) literature.

Ms Brantley is the brains behind a new idea that adds appeal to new readers and long-time literature lovers.

The ‘Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover’ concept involves Regan wrapping a selection of books in recycled paper.

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover (Photo: N Nakos)

A three-line synopsis of each title is given and for 10 dollars customers are able to purchase their mysterious novel in a lucky-dip style concept.

“The idea has been really popular. It’s like people are giving themselves a present. They get to unwrap it and get some enjoyment when they reveal what they’ve come home with,” Brantley said.

Despite print literature being in decline, the Grub Street Bookshop had three ‘twenty-something’ book lovers in its store recently who were first-time visitors.

“We love the vibe, it’s very Brunswick Street. This collection seems to have depth and I like how well-organised it is,” one of the shoppers Tyson Gould remarked.

The cultivation and expertise inside the Grub Street Bookshop make it a worthwhile visit, whether it’s for a five dollar classic Penguin novel or a recommendation from Regan and her team.

Grub Street Bookshop is located at 1/379 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, open daily from 10am-6pm. (03) 9417-3117. 

Written by Nicholas Nakos

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