It’s Bookspot time! Welcome back to bookspot of the week, where we have a chance to speak with amazing bookstores to quite frankly show them off. And if you didn’t know about them, now you do! This week we spoke with Lloyd Sowerbutts, the manager of a bookshop in London called, Libreria, it can be found at 65 Hanbury Street, London, E1 5JP.
How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?
Libreria was conceived as a way for customers to discover new voices and ideas, which wouldn’t be easy in a conventionally merchandised bookshop, or internet retailer’s algorithm. Libreria’s books are grouped according to broad themes, such as: Wanderlust, Enchantment for the Disenchanted and Utopia.
What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?
I feel that our thematic grouping of titles and the shop’s interior are the most obviously unique qualities.
If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store? A ‘speakeasy’ cocktail bar and reading space.
How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?
Pre-lockdown, Libreria would host Language Labs, a programme conceived by a former colleague Gabi Spangenthal, which would offer a space for members of Second Home and other volunteers to offer local migrants a space to practice English that was formally taught by ELATT.
What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?
Libreria is designed to maximise the serendipitous discovery of new books and ideas.
Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?
Not particularly. I assume a love of books from all applicants, so I look for skills that would complement the existing team’s strengths and will help the shop grow into a space our customers cherish.
How else do you create a welcoming environment?
I like to welcome our customers to the shop, as they are the lifeblood of the shop. We are happy to order books that we don’t currently have in stock. Ultimately, nothing should ever be a problem to solve.
What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?
I believe the shop’s beauty makes it a destination for many of our customers. Our social initiatives and event programme offer a different quality to other bookshops.
Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?
We are always talking about books that excite us via our Instagram and newsletter channels. Customers can sign up to our newsletter, via www.libreria.io
Do you tailor your inventory according to your community?
Absolutely! Each month, the team selects the books that we believe will appeal to the many tastes and interests of our customers.
What’s your favorite book?
This is a tough one. I have never been able to whittle it to a single book. I’m curious by nature, so my favourite books reflect this. If I was forced to pick a few, they would be: The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Lost Japan by Alex Kerr, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill and The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas.