Sunday, August 15, 2010

Skoob bookS

It took me a shamefully long time to get the pun in the name of this bookstore even though they make it obvious in the sign. An excellent collection of books here in a space that reminds me somewhat of the basement of The Strand before it got its fancy renovation.

They sell the Penguin mugs, though not all of them. Jane Austen's Persuasion seems a bit more difficult to find for example. Pride & Prejudice, yes. You can guess which mugs the Hound owns no doubt.

Many many many orange Penguins lay about this store in boxes and on shelves. It seems the most abundant colour. Penguin has some marketing genius going on these days. Too bad the brilliance doesn't spread into areas such as acquisition and upper management. One wonders what it would be like to have editors who approached their job with a little verve. Out in their tights looking for the rare and original instead of standing at the end of this or that assembly-line waiting for the prefabricated manuscripts to pop off the end of the line.  I am somewhat in jest here, but only slightly. Acquisition should be a strange game, no?

In any case, very much liked this bookstore, in the heart of Bloomsbury, in the basement of the Brunswick Centre, which is a mall, running parallel to Southhampton Row and near Coram's Fields. Not a very good looking mall as malls go, but a busy one, with a Waitrose and Starbucks for surfing and various other restaurants for noshing. You have to go in the "back door" of the mall to find this shop. It isn't obvious. It's downstairs as well.

This bookstore is all about regrets for me. So many excellent literary biographies that are on my list, so many modernist treasures--Ottoline Morrell, Woolf's biography of Roger Fry, Letters of Vanessa Bell, Marjorie Strachey's novel and so on. Books about England, history, geography, travel, some I'd never heard of and many I wanted to read. And good copies at that. Note to self: bring empty suitcase next time.

6 comments:

Ms Baroque said...

It used to be in Sicilian Avenue back in the 80s, was a gorgeous location, all cafes and menswear now. I'm chuffed - I have the Persuasion mug! I'll treasure it all the more now...

But the Brunswick Centre is very famous, originally all social housing and used for 100s of films as sort of "photogenic housing estate" - ironic, really - because it's now a design landmark and I believe largely inhabited by architects etc under Thatcher's Right to Buy...

Lemon Hound said...

Yes, someone was telling me about the mall and the great "social experiment" though not enough to fill out the post.

The Persuasion is difficult. Found it at the British Library finally.

Chris said...

I finally found Skoob about five minutes before closing, and still managed to buy three books. Crazy!

Surely it's less of a design landmark and more of a design object lesson?

Lemon Hound said...

What did you find, Chris?

lowercase reading room said...

Yes! SKOOB Books is a fabulous bookstore and at the other end of Brunswick Centre is the Renoir Theatre that always shows wonderful flims. I found a copy of Whispers from Space at SKOOB for 2 Quid.

Chris said...

Nothing I found was completely jaw-dropping, but I was pretty happy scoring a Routledge reprint of Eric Partridge's "Shakespeare's Bawdy", a dictionary of all of Shakespeare's naughty words and phrases.