The London bookshop map

Back in early 2011, as we embarked on our bookshop tour to find filming locations for The Last Bookshop, I remember wishing there was some kind of map or guidebook for bookshops.

When I later mentioned this thought in passing to Sabrina Izzard of Hall’s bookshop in Tunbridge Wells, she very helpfully provided us with a copy of the 2010-11 edition of the Directory of Antiquarian and Secondhand Booksellers. It’s a handy volume, indexed alphabetically as well as by speciality and geography. It covers the whole of the United Kingdom as well as a smattering of European and American shops (plus one Australian and one South African shop!). But it’s still no map. A map, I thought, would be just the thing.

Imagine my delight then, when yesterday afternoon – whilst browsing the shelves of the Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace – I spotted a complimentary folded white rectangle entitled The London Bookshop Map. Now, as it happens, the majority of our filming took place in Kentish locations (some excellent bookshops outside the South-East of England sadly proved a little too far away given our crew’s severe shortage of cars!) but this map is just the sort of thing we could have done with last year. It is ideal for anyone seeking independent bookshops in the capital.

When I showed our producer Rose, she was saddened by the swathes of Greater London marked with no bookshops whatsoever. And though I agreed, it occurred to me that perhaps the map was not comprehensive.

You see, I discovered a couple of new bookshops in South London this weekend. The first of these is Chener Books on Lordship Lane in Dulwich, which was on the map. But the second of these (a nice little shop and gallery called the Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham) was not on the map.

I wondered if Kirkdale was a new establishment, but a glimpse at their website showed me that – far from it – they are possibly the oldest bookshop in South East London, having been open since 1966!

But I was in luck: it appears the London Bookshop map will be reprinted every six months to address any omissions, new openings, or (hopefully not so many) closures. And as fate would have it the next edition is due out this coming weekend, on Saturday 17th March!

So while my map bears the subtitle 87 independent bookshops, the new edition rather promisingly proclaims 96 independent bookshops. Meaning that, from next weekend, you can pop into one of the capital’s independent bookshops and pick up a freshly up-to-date London bookshop map.

The official site is thelondonbookshopmap.org 

Who fancies doing a national map then . . ?

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2 Responses to The London bookshop map

  1. Jon Morgan says:

    There is a national interactive map called the Bookshop Guide on line just google it or Inprint, the bookshop from which it originates in Stroud. Mike Goodenough does all the techie maintenance stuff and readers and bibliophiles update and review the shops. geeky perhaps but it keeps the Fahrenheit 451 mob at bay. It is amodern SKOOB guide / Driff Guide

    jon Morgan

    • Hi Jon,

      Thanks for your comment. The Bookshop Guide is a great repository. I love Mike Goodenough’s explanation of his guide: “to use the immediacy and connectivity of the Internet to enable book lovers to enjoy the delights of literally getting their hands on old books.”

      But what we really wanted at the time was a geographical paper map that we could carry around in our pocket and roughly consult when we got lost. Bear in mind that, in late 2010 (when we were thinking of embarking on this project) none of us had a swanky internet phone. We were instead scribbling down information from maps, directories, and lists and drawing our own rough visual maps to follow when we were out and about.

      A mere 3 years later and this would be much easier to do with the aid of a decent phone.

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