"When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out." - Vickie Karp
Monday, 9 June 2014
The new flagship Foyles
Having finished copy-edits, yesterday I went to check out the new flagship Foyles on Charing Cross Road. Wild rumours have been flying around the industry for over a year about this new 'future bookshop.' When they closed down their old main branch ten years ago, booksellers cut the shelves up into tiny pieces and these were tied up with ribbon, labelled 'souvenirs!,' and dotted around the tills: Take a piece of Foyles home with you! I have a rather large soft spot for Foyles, and there are a lot of amusing stories about their history in The Bookshop Book - including a tale about a bookseller who, way back when, used to bring her pet parrot to work (before being asked not to after it attacked one of the customers).
The new branch is pretty beautiful (and no pet parrots in sight). It's full of light, with an atrium that allows you to see all the floors. I think I spent an hour in there, wandering around the fiction and children's section. There's still work going on, and more sections will be opened by authors over the coming weeks. It's all very promising, though. Authors will be running literary tours of London from the bookshop, and there's a large event space and gallery on the upper floors, too. There are a few photos over here.
Did I leave empty handed? Pfft. Don't be silly. I stumbled across a copy of Alice Hoffman's Museum of Extraordinary Things.
It's about old American circuses, fake mermaids and freak shows - all things I'm a little bit obsessed with. As I started reading it on the tube home, I discovered that the main character has syndactyly/ectrodactyly, just like me. Clearly this book has my name written all over it. See, not to be cheesy - I speak only the truth: bookshops unite customers with lost pieces of themselves. So thanks, Foyles, you shiny thing. I look forward to spending many more hours browsing your shelves.
Jen Campbell is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' series, and 'The Bookshop Book.' She's also an award-winning poet and short story writer. Her poetry collection 'The Hungry Ghost Festival' is published by The Rialto and she is currently writing a short story collection. She runs a Booktube channel over at youtube.com/jenvcampbell
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From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole). The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.