A new vision for bookshops


Image courtesy of londondesignguide.com

Bookshops are declining. So claims Jamie Byng of Canongate Books, a company which has twice been voted Publisher of the Year, in this month’s The Quarterly Magazine. I’m ready to believe that – Borders is gone and e-books are on the rise. It’s easy to imagine a future where books are only browsed for digitally.

However – as a designer I enjoy design and art books too. I also like novels with pictures in them and academic books with at least some diagrams. I’m a big reader, I love Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Plath, but sometimes images in books make them more enjoyable and give your eyes a welcome break from letters. I don’t need them. I want them. At the very least, beautiful lettering and paper quality that gives pleasure to your fingertips can make a book that much more enjoyable, even without pictures. You can’t get that on e-books. No e-book can beat a beautifully designed book. As objects they can be fantastic things to own.

You can’t write inscriptions in e-books you give away either. I have an inscription in my grandfather’s copy of Guilliver’s Travels that is 96 years old.

Books need to live on! We should not deny future generations the pleasure of books because of current trends. Anyway, it probably won’t happen because books are just too good to be lost.

Still, there is a design opportunity here. The V&A’s bookshop/coffee shop has a beautiful selection of books, some coffee table ones, some purely literature. A specialist hand-picked selection of books could be the way forward for bookshops. Rather than choosing books for how well they will sell in a shop, choose an unusual selection for a certain type of person. It feels as though you’re walking into a well-read friend’s personal library, and you’ve been told you can choose one book to take away with you.


Image courtesy of londondesignguide.com


Image courtesy of londondesignguide.com

I really wanted to take my own pictures but they wouldn’t let me. We need more of this sort of bookshop, where some of the pleasure is in the physicality of the books. There is so much pleasure to be had – it would be sad to lose touch with it.

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1 Comment

Filed under Ideas

One response to “A new vision for bookshops

  1. i love this idea 🙂 it gives me hope that the book shops will live on and survive the decline in importance and also popularity of books.
    lovely 🙂
    thankyou for sharing keep smiling

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