October 10, 2014
Faber & Faber launches a pop-up bookshop
by Mark Krotov
If you only read one blog post about pop-up stores, read this story about small mom-and-pop operation Amazon.com, which has decided to open a pop-up store in New York that will, as far as I know, only sell color printouts of various Amazon product pages. It’s going to be a really great store.
But! If you decide to read two blog posts about pop-up stores, please continue reading this one. This post is about a pop-up store that, unlike the Amazon one, has already opened and, also unlike the Amazon one, is run by a great company.
The company in question is the venerable British publishing house Faber & Faber. Faber has published a tremendous amount of great fiction, nonfiction, and poetry since its founding in 1929, including Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, the favorite book of the guy behind that other pop-up store. (I know that we’ve mentioned this before, but it’s such a bizarre fact that we’re never going to stop.) Having already branched out into creative writing courses, apps, and e-book distribution, Faber has now “gone brick-and-mortar,” which is not, I think, actually something anyone has ever said in real life—except, possibly, for the people who call print books p-books.
On Wednesday, Faber opened a pop-up bookstore on Cecil Court, a street well known for its density of second-hand bookstores. Indeed, the store itself is owned by Natalie Galustian, a rare-book dealer. But until the new year, the rare books will be cast aside (or, more likely, carefully placed to the side) and replaced instead by Faber’s many excellent music titles, including David Stubbs’s brilliant Future Days, which will be published in North America by Melville House next year. Though the store will also feature some of the house’s fiction and poetry titles, music is the focus. Why music? That’s what The Independent asked editorial director Lee Brackstone:
Is the shop a branding exercise? “It’s an attempt by a publisher to engage directly with its readers,” said Brackstone, cautiously, “an opportunity to express ourselves in the high street. We want people to walk into a shop in the heart of traditional bookselling London, and go, ‘Wow, these 80 music books, stretching from the Beastie Boys to Beck, are all published by one company.’ It’s a way to say we don’t just make books, we also create experiences.”
The store will host numerous events, among them an art exhibit of work by longtime Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood. The Slits’ Viv Albertine and writer Teju Cole—both Faber authors—appeared at the store’s launch.
Though the store will only be around for a few months, its appearance is clearly a good thing. Brackstone told the Independent that the store is “is an attempt to reinvigorate ourselves and insist that it’s our responsibility to add value to publications and make people want them.” Well, that, and it can’t hurt to remind readers that the company behind their favorite books is also throwing them a party with music and, probably, booze.
So what could be better than a pop-up bookstore? Well, one thing that’s definitely better is a permanent bookstore, like the one run by a certain Brooklyn-based independent publisher called Melville House. It just happens to be open from 12 to 5 every weekday, and it’ll be open long after January 1, 2015.
Mark Krotov was a senior editor at Melville House.