For February’s bookshop of the month, we make our way to Shoreditch, London – which Libreria calls home. Recently opened, with bright and exquisite aesthetics to accompany a fabulous range of books, we spoke to Paddy, the general manager, about what exciting times lie ahead for Libreria…
In the first year of trading as an independent bookshop in London, what have been the highlights for you?
Where to begin! The overall response has been incredible – people are really embracing our thematic curation, discovering titles they wouldn’t normally go for. It’s also a haven from the digital deluge, people are really relishing the no phones atmosphere.
Your new subscription packages offer members hot picks from the shelves of Libreria. How will you go about choosing these books for your customers?
This is a choice we make every month based on something we think deserves more attention, old or new. It’s also made in accordance with Libreria’s philosophy of discovery; we want it to be a talked about subscription, where people are getting something they wouldn’t normally hear about, or even publishers they might not be aware exist. Exciting punchy stories, but we’re also planning a non-fiction paperback pick series.
You hold a wide range of events in store. What are your favourite events to run and why?
It’s an interesting question, but I guess the quirkier the better; for the Geoff Manaugh event (Burgler’s Guide to the City) we did a little risograph publication where the reader had to break into the text in order to read one of Geoff’s essays. But Geoff is just different, and has a unique story to tell, that’s always going to be a winner for us. I think there is a lot of exciting stuff being written on architecture, Stephen Graham’s (who will be speaking with Ian Sinclair at Second Home next month) Vertical is also awesome. Our Veranda spoken word night is gaining real traction, run by Libreria’s Belinda Zhawi who curated our Africana section and is poet in residence at the ICA. I can’t think of another bookshop in London with something like this – a shelf dedicated to African literature and its global influence.
Independent bookshops can be a vital part of the community. What unique qualities do you think Libreria brings to the local area?
They can be a vital part of the community, but they have to be open and embracing. Too often bookshops are inherently unwelcoming places, we have tried to make Libreria an inviting place for everyone and it seems to be working! The most satisfying thing for all of us involved is that it is a broad, diverse crowd of people who come to check out the store and buy books, that’s very rewarding. It’s very much a two-way process of exchanging ideas and fostering creativity, no doubt about it, we are always learning.
Do you have any exciting plans in the pipeline for Libreria’s future that you’d like to share?
Along with our book events (Michael Chabon last Friday was a rare treat), we’re planning a literary drinks evening where we celebrate books and booze, be it Hemingway, Patrick Hamilton, F Scott Fitzgerald or Anais Nin. Plus, we are going to concentrate on ‘beers and browse’ on our late opening nights (Thursday, Friday and Sat till 10pm), and Sunday afternoons, with board games and music.