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Marriage proposals, tattoos and twilight trading at Paperback Bookshop 

Meet Anna MacDonald from one of Melbourne's most iconic bookstores.


Amid the towers of books at Paperback BookshopOpens in new tab, Anna MacDonald has seen everything from in-store marriage proposals to tattoos inspired by the shop facade.  

“I’ve always loved this bookshop,” Anna said. “I’ve been coming here since I was a teenager it’s kind of a dream job.”

Anna bought Paperback BookshopOpens in new tab in 2023, after working behind the counter as a bookseller for 13 years.

The store itself has changed little since it opened in the 1960s with the original wood shelving adding to the classic bookstore scent.

Anna MacDonald, owner of Paperback Bookshop

Extended trading hours have also been built into the business for many years, satisfying appetite for twilight retail for more than 50 years.

Paperback Bookshop is open until 10pm from Monday to Thursday and until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

“It’s in keeping with the part of the city we’re in we’re in the heart of the theatre district, surrounded by restaurants so there are a lot of people on the streets.”

New research commissioned by the City of Melbourne and the Australian Retailers Association reveals an opportunity for retailers to make the most of changing behaviours of consumers who are now in the city later.

Foot traffic is up 35 per cent after 6pm compared to 2019.

The research also found a disconnect between people’s growing desire to shop later and the number of stores open during twilight hours, where there are more consumers walking in the city than retailers open for business.

The facade of Paperback bookshop, an a-frame sign placed on the front pavement reads 'The Paperback, open late'.


Testing the twilight market

A twilight trade initiative, in partnership with the Australian Retailers Association, hopes to shine a spotlight on retailers like Paperback that trade after 5pm and boost the city’s after-hours appeal.

For more than 50 years, Paperback has been open late to cater to the nighttime crowd in the city. As demand for twilight retail increases, city traders are encouraged to take a leaf out of their book.

The bookshop’s night owl-friendly hours are informed by the needs of a wide range of people including tourists and locals who live in the CBD and surrounds.

For Anna, catering to these people is vital for the vibrancy of the city.

“Melbourne is now the largest Australian city and there’s so many people living in the CBD people do need to access services outside the workday,” Anna said.

“We hear from tourists too, because this is a standard thing in other major cities around the world they say why is there nowhere I can go after 6pm? Why can’t I meet my friends somewhere that isn’t a restaurant or bar after 6pm?”

Global shopping destinations are increasingly open for business later when customers want to shop.

International success in trading later shows that retail, hospitality, and events sectors need to work together to attract and retain consumers and grow visitors in the transition between the daytime and night-time economy.

About Twilight Trade

Keen to test the twilight market? Online information sessionsOpens in new tab are currently being held to inform retailers about the benefits, and businesses trading late.

Looking for some late-night shopping? See who’s openOpens in new tab.

The initiative is supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund a $200 million partnership between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne.

our acknowledgement

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The City of Melbourne respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land we govern, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong / Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin and pays respect to their Elders past and present. 


We acknowledge and honour the unbroken spiritual, cultural and political connection they have maintained to this unique place for more than 2000 generations.

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