London’s Rich Store of Publishing Houses and Bookshops

Literary Tourist in London, England. Day 1

I love London. Love being surrounded by English accents, and striking architecture,

old


Traitors’ Gate? Prisoners were ferried along the Thames under London Bridge upon which the heads of recently executed prisoners smiled down on them. Sir Thomas More, among other notables, entered the Tower by Traitors’ Gate

and new.


(not sure what this building’s called, or the battleship for that matter, but I’m feeling it).

The combination really enriches a place.

Intrigued by the steeples of London churches and the masts of tall ships depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, Renzo Piano designed The Shard as a spire-like sculpture emerging from the Thames.

Then there’s The Tate. The Royal Shakespeare Company. The British Library. Jermyn Street. But most important of all, there’s the fact that London is where so many great British book publishers and booksellers first set up shop: John Murray, Faber & Faber, Michael Joseph, The Hogarth Press, Jonathan Cape, Heinemann. Maggs Bros., Bernard Quaritch, Hatchards (complete with insufferable attitude), Henry Sotheran, Waterstones, Daunt Books .

I was here to connect with this.

***

Off the tube, on day one, at Green Park Station, and this lovely fountain

en-route to Maggs Bros. bookshop,

Maggs Bros.

where I encounter Ben Maggs. Had hoped to interview his father for The Biblio File, but hadn’t heard back. Ben indicated that this wasn’t entirely unusual, so my nose slowly made its way back into joint. On the plus side, he told me he’d heard of my humble podcast. Then we settled into an interesting discussion about fine press books and communicating with the dead. I complimented him on the pleasing presentation of his books.

The doing of manager

Bonny Beaumont he told me.

***

Next it was off to interview Will Atkinson in Bloomsbury.

Will is Managing Director of Atlantic Books, U.K, publisher of Tim Waterstones’s recent memoir The Face Pressed Against a Window. Prior to Atlantic, Will was for many years with Faber & Faber, serving as Director of Sales & Marketing. During this time he spearheaded the Independent Alliance, a very successful sales organization that comprises some of the U.K.’s leading independent publishers, including Granta and Canongate.

Listen here as we talk about the secret to his sales success:

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Literary Tourist City Guides

Photo Credit: Chris Wood           Wonder if this streetcar is named desire?

Some years ago Poets and Writers started running a great series of articles detailing literary life in cities throughout the United States. Specifically, “they asked  those in the literary community—authors, booksellers, publishers, editors, and the like—to take us on a tour of their city of residence: to the places they go to connect with writers of the past, to the bars and cafés where today’s authors give readings, and to those sites that are most inspiring for writing.”

This of course describes very well the plight of the literary tourist. Although some of the articles date back to 2011, and thus may be slightly out of date, for the most part these pieces serve as terrific literary ‘City Guides.’ The inside scoop from those in the know.

I plan to visit San Francisco soon and so am particularly interested in reading this. Here’s a link to the whole series. 

I’ve already lined up an interview with Andrew Hoyem, typographer, letterpress printer, publisher, poet, and founder of Arion Press, for my Biblio File podcast. Also plan to talk to someone at The Book Club of California, and am working on Dave Eggers, publisher at McSweeney’s.

Judging from their tourism webside alone, San Francisco is one happening town. Should be a blast!