Sunday, 5 November 2017

Bookshops, Book-boats and 24 Hour Bookshops by Savita Kalhan

With winter fast approaching and the nights getting longer, there always seems to be more time to read. For me it’s partly because my allotment no longer needs as much time or care – it goes into hibernation for most of the winter as my hands would much rather be occupied ploughing though a book than trying to hammer through freezing cold soil!

Despite my sky-high TBR pile of books, I find it hard to resist the allure of a bookshop, to browse through recently published books, to buy the occasional one or two or three. . .

There is no bookshop on my local high street, but living in London there are many amazing bookshops a tube or bus ride away, including Foyles where I can lose days! 

Pickled Pepper Books
There are a few children’s bookshops too, like Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End, Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill, Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill, The Alligator’s Mouth in Richmond,
Tales on Moon Lane
Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, The Owl and the Pussycat in Ealing, The Golden Treasury in Southfields, and Under the Greenwood Tree in Clapham Common, Bookworm in Temple Fortune.

A few independent bookshops also run great programmes for kids, like The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green and The Owl in Kentish Town. It would be nice to see more bookshops like these. . .

All the bookshops I go to are shops on a high street, but people have opened bookshops in many different places, from underground garages, to apartments to boats. 

Word on Water is a Dutch barge on the canal between Camden and Euston. It hosts book readings, poetry evenings and a variety of other events too.

The Book Barge was a bookshop that travelled along the canals in the UK. You had to make an appointment to collect your books from them, but you could order whatever you wanted ahead of time. The barge is in France at the moment! 

Tell a Story is a blue van that travels around Lisbon promoting national literature to tourists. It’s full of the translated works of Portuguese writers.

1200 in Guanzhou in China is one of the few 24 hour bookshops in the world. It has thousands of books, chairs, sofas, a coffee shop, and it really is open all hours. It offers free coffee between 2 am and 6 am, and a 32% discount on books during the night. Would a 24 hour bookshop catch on here?

And then there is the beautiful La Librería Acqua Alta, which means Book Shop of High Water, in Venice, and which is liable to flooding. So books are kept in bath tubs and sinks – and even a gondola! And their fire escape leads directly onto the canal. . .

One of my favourite bookshops remains the Shakespeare and Co bookshop in Paris. It even has a bed! What more can you ask for?


Penny Dolan said...

I liked your list of bookshops, especially your gathering of children's bookshops across London.

Your post recalled a different book barge. Every summer, a long while ago (back in the last century, I suppose) The Story Barge travelled along the canals of Hertfordshire, carrying children's authors and illustrators between various canal-side stops, where they'd give author talks, workshops, poetry sessions and performances to groups of children & families, and maybe visiting classes midweek. The Story Barge was organised, partly, by School Library Services and may well have travelled & moored in other canal areas too.

The authors etc didn't live on the barge overnight, which rather spoils the idyll for me. Whether this idealism helped sales then, I don't know, because the Story Barge was set up to widen the love of reading.

Chitra Soundar said...

Love this post. I find bookshops
Magical even if sometimes they overwhelm me. I love the tenacity of mobile bookshops that reach wider audiences.

Savita Kalhan said...

Penny, I love the idea of The Story Barge spreading a love of reading up and down the canals.

Chitra, I find bookshops magical too! Libraries and bookshops are my favourite places, and I love the different ways books and libraries are taken out to people who wouldn't ordinarily have access to them.

Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely to have so many bookshops available to you; there's a real dearth where I live. I love the idea of a story barge! Mind you, I'm really scared of locks, so I wouldn't be much good on one.

Catherine said...

Great post!
Though I'm generally okay for bookshops as I work in Manhattan (Strand Books is only a few stops away), I am blown away by the amount of bookshops I've encountered from my strolls through London. Word on the Water is just another delight!