Economy

A Melbourne book lover’s paradise

17 November 2023

As a UNESCO City of Literature, books and reading are embedded in Melbourne’s culture. 

Independent bookshop Mary Martin represents the best of literature in our book-loving city, taking home the Bookshop of the Year award in 2019 and being recognised as a finalist in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Small Business of the Year Awards.  

Since its humble beginnings in Adelaide in 1945, Mary Martin Bookshop’s mission is to provide a second home for book lovers, creatives and students.  

Current owner Jaye Chin-Dusting left behind a career in medical research to bring new life to Mary Martin, and today, Mary Martin has three branches – in Southgate, Port Melbourne and a newly-opened branch at Queen Victoria Market. 

A person sitting in an armchair, holding books, out the front of a bookshop.
Jaye Chin-Dusting brings the joy of reading to literature lovers across the city.

Mary Martin caters to all ages and tastes, from toddlers to the elderly, and everyone in between.  

True to the spirit of the original Mary Martin bookshop, all are welcome to take their time perusing the shop’s extensive collection.

“Mary Martin is a very personal space. It’s not just about the books – it’s about people coming in and feeling at home to browse to their heart’s content. Particularly in our Southgate shop, we get lots of office workers coming in during their lunch break who just need a breather. It’s meditative for them and we are very comfortable accommodating that,” Jaye said. 

Beyond just a place to browse, Mary Martin hosts a wide range of events, including book clubs, author readings and ‘mystery nights’, where participants are invited to receive a mystery book and get to meet the author for a conversation over a glass of wine – Mary Martin’s way of supporting local talent.  

About 70 per cent of the books stocked are standardised across the three branches – but the rest are cleverly targeted towards that area’s demographic.  

“In the Port Melbourne branch, we stock more children’s books as it’s a more suburban area with families coming in. For the Queen Victoria Market branch, we’d carry books that might be appealing to an impulse buyer who has come in for a browse,” Jaye said. 

As an independent bookstore, the staff at Mary Martin can choose which books come into the shop, using extensive product knowledge to curate a unique selection suited to their customers.  

“As one of the world’s strongest reading communities and a City of Literature, Melbourne is a great place for a bookshop to do business,” Jaye said. 

Mary Martin Bookshop can be found on the ground floor of Southgate Shopping Centre, Southbank, in String Bean Alley at Queen Victoria Market and at 2/188 Bay Street, Port Melbourne. 

About the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards 

Melbourne is full of fantastic small business success stories. 

The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards celebrate the people behind inner-city businesses that have stood the test of time. 
 
Among the recipients are legends who have been in business in the city for 10+, 20+ and 40+ years. We also name a Small Business of the Year and Small Innovation Business of the Year. 

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17 November 2023
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