The website description reads:
“Elegant bookshops, predominantly British offering a broad selection of carefully chosen books of all kinds. The best of fiction, current affairs, biography, food and wine, with design,travel and unusual books for children”
I recognize the formal if faintly snotty wording of a person from the British privileged classes ……
As a Brit I am used to seeing – through visits to the Stately/Heritage Homes of the UK – libraries containing magnificent floor to ceiling wooden shelves groaning with the weight of dusty tomes, their titles unreadable from the visitor’s perspective – A bit like “Trajan’s Column” – with its cartoon relief depiction of Trajan‘s victories and conquests spiralling all the way up to the top where only the Gods could bear witness to his marvellous achievement, so these out-of-reach inaccessible books below ceiling level were really just for show.
Whilst the elegant stately bookstore of Nicholas Hoare can’t be accused of that, there are some similarities: sky-high quality bookshelves – with sliding ladders for accessibility frame the interior space.
Nicholas Hoare – the owner – describes the interior of his stores thus:
“Suffice to say the benevolent, panelled influence is perhaps visible in our manicured stores, each of which was built, to our own design, by a family firm of cabinetmakers to exacting standards, which still obtain today”
It needs to be mentioned at this point that Nicholas is from the UK, was raised in an Elizabethan Mansion and educated in centuries-old public schools. He also hails from the prestigious British Banking family – Messrs Hoare & Co.
Back in the store..
Off to the side is another “Stately Home” touch – an unexpected “hanging” galleried side section (lined with vintage 70’s cash registers).
Further nods to a bygone more gracious age – a fireplace in the centre of the store with slouching sofas, armchairs and huge book-strewn coffee table all vying for your attention. Many a book will have been purchased during a moment of quiet unhurried repose – the “reading” area is not a thoroughfare unlike the big bookstores who position their hard-on-the- bum chairs along aisles of heavy traffic. In our fast paced internet/IPad/Kobe world, the chance to experience book shopping old school is alluring and effective.
Case in point, I had not intended to buy any books – I bought three!!
Not for this institution the stack-em high sell-em low best-seller/discounted book displays of the big-box bookseller. There’s no spine jostling on these shelves. Neither does Hoares adopt the usual marketing gambit of displaying only hot sellers cover side out. ALL carefully procured titles are artfully displayed covers facing out whether on the top or bottom shelves.
The “less is more” inventory means that every book gets an equal chance to scream “pick me, pick me!
Despite the lack of any obvious
signage directing you to a specific genre, the books seamlessly flow out of one subject and into another. An artful trick as browsers who go in to look at books on a particular subject i.e.. science and invention, find themselves browsing the next genre without even noticing the transition. Books ordinarily off your radar are suddenly in front of you, now this is “browsing”. Displayed like this books offer an open invitation “pick me up; leaf through my pages”. There are no worries either about trying to slot an unwanted book back into the place you prized it out of.
Sadly this – the last of three Hoare bookstores will be closing its doors forever on April 1 as Mr Hoare is retiring.
And with that, the demise of one of the most “magical ” book shopping experiences in town.
Check out the “different as chalk and cheese” experience offered by Qspace on College. it also is independent; offers espresso and “knit your own muesli” teas plus pastries and snacks alongside faintly battered shelving crowded with titles. Formica tables and chairs and the ubiquitous WiFi/- nowhere to slouch in this bookstore!
And then there is the gorgeous “Mabel’s Fabels” children’s bookstore on Mount Pleasant.
In the meantime I will leave you with Nicholas’ own words on his inventory
“Nicholas’, hand picked selection of both current and classic titles of particular interest and merit”
You get the picture…..
Over and out