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Push, Shift, Shake: Bookshops as Experience

So we’ve been watching and thinking about how books can be accessed and experienced in public spaces in different ways, how and where physical books can live and what kinds of reading environments we’re opening ourselves up to.

There’s the British bookstore as institution, Foyles, who seem to be exploring the future of the bookstore experience and what that can contain apart from books, with their forthcoming shift into their new space in Central St Martin’s old one, building stories around the books as much as a new place for the books themselves (plans for a Hemingway Bar one of our faves so far).

And on a more intimate scale, there’s the Izu Book Cafe designed as part of a couple’s house on the outskirts of Tokyo, which is shifting the old idea of what would have been a local bookstore run with passion into an open private designer house with a gorgeous add-on of books and cafe and tea nattering neighbours.

Thinking the sky’s the limit, the Book Mountain library in the Netherlands, soon to be seen as part of the Design Museum’s Designs of the year, have been pushing physical book environments boundaries to the max by opening the library’s insides up to the sky through a glass covered pyramid of bookshelves from recycled plastic bags now stocking over 50,000 books. You literally climb the shelves around the building to borrow and read.

And then, of course there’s the library with no physical books at all: the proposed public library in San Antonio, Texas, questioning if libraries need books as objects at all.

So whether it’s about shifting the idea of a bookstore to a space as experience or bringing a local bookshop into the home open for the public or building structures around bookshelves or doing away with physical books altogether it looks like it’s all shifting, changing and hopefully adding some kind of value to our lives along the way. Exciting.

Push, shift, shake. Yep. More, more, more.

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