When the city centre gets too loud, when the people become too many, then go and hide around the corner in Embiggen Books. Calm down besides books and antiques. Literature is never far, even when you least expect it.
Interview with Warren Bonett, co-owner of Embiggen Books.
Which three books of Melbourne would you recommend to a person visiting the city?
Melbourne by Sophie Cunningham (non-fiction)
1835 by James Boyce (non-fiction)
Monkey Grip by Helen Garner (fiction)
Please tell me a bit about the literary scene in your neighbourhood.
The literary scene in our immediate neighbourhood is dominated by the completely fabulous Wheeler Centre and Victorian Writer’s Centre which are both across the road in the State Library. We are frequently involved in their events. One entertaining and important one of note is The Next Big Thing events at cafe/bar/restaurant The Moat and run by which specialises in authors speak that may have one or two books out. They’re usually the second Monday of the month but may be different this year.
What’s the story of the bookshop?
We first set up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and after a couple of Queensland floods and the the Global Financial Crisis we decided to move to an area less on the edge both environmentally and economically. After many months we settled on our current location in Melbourne. It was quite a move! Especially given the flood we had a month after we opened in Melbourne. Our strongest desire with the shop is to make more available the kinds of books you normally have to search high and low for, in particular in the areas of science, philosophy, politics and history. And due to local demand we have grown a quite extensive children’s section.
What are the challenges nowadays in Australia to run a bookshop – and which ideas make Embiggen Books unique and special?
There are challenges in any small business as it’s a little like navigating a small boat on choppy seas. Much of the everyday conditions are entirely beyond your control so a combination of responsiveness and consistency are very important. We have been described as a curated bookstore, I guess because we are more likely to have obscure or smaller run science or politics populating our new releases areas than the latest blockbuster. For instance some of our best selling books are Thinking Fast and Slow by the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan and Justice by Michael Sandel, and our best selling fiction authors are Haruki Murakami and Max Barry.
Can you recommend a few of your favourite places near your bookshop?
As mentioned previously I would recommend The Wheeler Centre. They hold talks five days a week for most of the year. The programme is always interesting and varied. It’s situated above one of our favourite places The Moat, a beautiful little restaurant with a great wine list and fabulous food.
First opened in Qld in early 2008 and then moved to Melbourne in 2011.
Owned by Warren Bonett and Kirsty Bruce.
197-203 Little Lonsdale Street, 3000 Melbourne, Australia.
Monay – Wednesday 10.30 – 18.30, Thursday – Friday 10.30 – 19, Saturday – Sunday 10.30 – 17