The Art of Floating In Books
Living in the U.K. or planning to visit there? Then this iconic book haven on water is reportedly a must visit, particularly if you are a book enthusiast.
Word on the Water: The London Bookbarge is a 1920s Dutch barge that’s moored in the King's Cross area at Granary Square along Regent's Canal. It is considered one of the coolest, most unique shopping locales in all of London.
The genesis for the book barge idea, dating back to 2011, involved a collaboration formed between its two founders Jon Privett and Paddy Screech) whose houseboats were once moored next to one another. But for book enthusiasts it wasn’t always easy to locate as canal regulations at the time meant the floating bookshop had to change locations every few weeks. According to historical lore, the owners plopped down wherever they could locate a spot.
Well, things came to a head when the determined owners ended up breaking the rules. After squatting in one location for six months, the canal regulators, amid public uproar and a campaign led by shop supporters, finally gave in and permitted the bookshop boat a permanent berth.
This well celebrated move came as the barge nearly submerged after the interior flooded due to a broken valve. The migratory nature of the bookshop made its survival questionable with co-founder Jonathan Privett once noting that “people would come see it, see things they wanted to buy, see things they wanted to show their friends, they'd come back the next day and we'd be gone.”
Fortunately, “The London Book Barge” as it’s affectionately known has dropped anchor for the foreseeable future. Step aboard the vessel, and you’ll reportedly find a litany of literary treasures waiting to be discovered. It features a smorgasbord of cult, classic and contemporary fiction books, as well as a large array of children’s books.
Much more than a bookstore, the barge rooftop garden attracts musicians and performers for open mic sessions; readings and poetry slams too. There are also eclectic discussions on themes such as art, politics, philosophy, and feminism.
Rumor has it that there is ample seating inside, outside, and on benches along the Regent’s Canal towpath. During the dreary cold winter months, patrons can also enjoy a cozy, intimate indoor atmosphere, replete with a wood stove inside that billows heat.
Acclaim for the bookshop has been shared in the Washington Post and The Guardian. Needless to say, I have now added it to my 2020 bookstores by 2030 travelog tour list that I’ll be recommencing on Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday April 29th.
In Recognition of Independent Bookstore Day and the Relaunch of My Global Bookstore Tour