The NYTimes brought a “new” trend among indie bookstores to our attention today.
It seems the avant-garde of London indie booksellers have regressed, technologically speaking, to the mid-1990s:
What do literary tourists look for when they visit the British Isles? Often it’s the quaint, old-fashioned bookshops that provide the perfect excuse to browse uninterrupted and to disconnect from the world. Until recently, the trend for barista-made coffee and high-speed Wi-Fi was considered by some in the city’s bookish crowd to be ruining London’s centuries-old tradition of disconnected browsing.
But a crop of bookshops is rebelling against frenzied online engagement and is creating environments where the real-life, internet-free book browse is the most effective way to expand your social and professional networks. And in countering the internet overload, some stores are proving to be among London’s hottest hangouts.Leading the rebels is Libreria Books in London’s East End, which is a Wi-Fi- and coffee-free zone. It was opened in February by Rohan Silva, a former policy adviser to the former prime minister David Cameron, and co-founder of Second Home, a members’ club providing a work space for entrepreneurs.
Libreria is in the company of Tenderbooks (tenderbooks.co.uk),Buchhandlung Walther König (buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de), Lutyens & Rubinstein, (lutyensrubinstein.co.uk) and Word on the Water (facebook.com/wordonthewater), all independent book shops shunning high-speed cables and lattes. Their mantra has drawn a sophisticated, brainy crowd, but its premise is simple: In the digital age, the bookshop should be a refuge, an information overload in its own right.
When I first read that story this morning I was thrilled that booksellers had found a way to distinguish themselves from the chains and focus on selling books. I was all set to comment on this remarkable trend when something occurred to me.
I have never actually been in a bookstore, an indie bookstore that is, which had free Wifi. I always travel with a mobile device and I make a point of visiting indie bookstores whenever I can, but I’ve never found one with free Wifi.
Coincidentally, I also can’t recall that I have ever seen an indie bookstore with a cafe – aside from a few exceptions like Powell’s Books in Portland, OR, and other big box indies.
Am I just not visiting the right bookstores, or is the NY Times inventing a “new” trend which has actually been around for decades?
I clearly haven’t visited enough bookstores to answer this question definitively, so I am opening the question for debate. Have you encountered indie bookstores with free Wifi and cafes, and are they really that common?
image by shotbydan