Books

Look inside London’s new technology-free and immersive literary haven

Posted by
Harriet Hall
Published

Do you sometimes wish you had more time to read? That you’d read the book before the movie came out but, somehow, life got in the way?

More like technology got in the way; the constant checking of emails, the incessant beeping of that Whatsapp group chat…

If this sounds like you, then London’s newest literary haven will be right up your alley.

Opening on Thursday, Libreria – meaning book shop in Spanish and Italian - is a book shop, printing press and community space in Hanbury Street, that seeks to reject our obsession with technology.

The shop has been designed with exploration in mind: shelving designed by art students at the Slade School are cut in unfinished curving waves of wood that allow visitors to flow through the shop and get lost in its contents. Chairs are mismatched and the ceilings are mirrored, immersing you into another world. Meanwhile, nooks cut into the shelves, invite visitors to settle in and curl up to read.

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Inside the Libreria bookshop

The shop will also be hosting seminars, gigs and workshops, making it more of an interactive community space than just a one-stop shop.

The use of mobile phones will be prohibited when inside the shop, so that visitors can be present and immersed in the sanctuary of the bookshop.

“We’ve reached a cultural tipping point,” says Sally Davies, director of Libreria. “People are becoming aware of the costs of being constantly digitally connected - and instead crave experiences that are tangible, human, immersive.”

Shops curators have rejected digital algorithms that are applied to book selection, instead organising the shelves in a thematic manner, which will encourage shoppers to discover new works.

Themes will include areas such as ‘terror’, ‘enlightenment’, ‘refugees’ and ‘the sea and the sky,’ as opposed to more conventional divisions, and the shop will offer a diverse range of titles, from the popular, to the lesser-known. The aim is, that readers looking for a history book on one topic might be surprised and enlightened to discover a poetry book that relates to their interests.

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Libreria will host seminars, workshops and gigs

Following the digital ban, mood music in the shop will be played from vinyl records, not from MP3 players. Music will have the quirky cracks and scratches of old-style record players, capturing a more raw sound.

In addition to all this, the shop will have a printing press in the basement, where visitors can enjoy week-long courses in bookbinding and letter press printing – paring back to the heart of books.

“Across industries we are seeing a return to physical, material things and a fresh appreciation of craftsmanship,” says Rohan Silva, one of the co-founders.

“These things are not being killed by the digital; they are being given new life.”

And there won't be a Kindle in sight...