Continuing on with my 2018 Bookshop Challenge this week I visit the flagship Waterstones store in Piccadilly.
Piccadilly is a major shopping road in London and as I let you know last week also has the very historic Hatchards store as well as Fortnum and Mason and The Ritz Hotel. The street is very historic and whilst Hatchards has stood in the same spot for hundreds of years other buildings are reinvented every few decades or so. Thus Waterstones began as something else.
We were impressed with the building when we entered through large curved glass doors into a huge lobby type area with curved steps down into it. You walk through into a larger room which has an imposing industrial staircase to the right. There was a real period feel to the space which Waterstones has tried to make its own. Of vital importance for a bookshop set over 6 floors is a list of where you need to go and I quickly found the true crime and crime sections. I took the lift from the basement to the 3rd floor along with several Japanese tourists.
Stepping out of the elevator I found myself in the biggest space stretching from front to back of the building. High up over Piccadilly I was able to look out of the windows to the building opposite. Once finished with the true crime section, which I didn’t find too extensive, I walked down to the crime section which was huge and organised alphabetically. There were, as appears to be the norm in London bookshops, sections for Sherlock and Christie.
I’ve found out that the building was designed as a menswear department store and that makes complete sense to the building and how I imagine it would have been laid out and how attractive the backdrop would have been for that. Personally I didn’t like the building as a bookshop. Or I didn’t like how they had used the space. It was left to be too big. Overwhelming Imposing. I wasn’t inspired. I wasn’t drawn into and hugged by books. I just felt like there were too many. Hatchards made me feel like there were too many books but they displayed them in a smaller more personal way. There were separate spaces or rooms, the space was much more divided up. In Waterstones it was just an expanse of floor that stretched from left to right as far as the eye could see. Then over 6 massive floors. I was overwhelmed at just visiting three floors and didn’t go near the other floors!
So, loved the building but not the bookshop. If that makes sense! I will definitely stick to my favourite Waterstones in Canterbury!
Do you love the Piccadilly branch? Does it grow on you? What’s your favourite Waterstones branch?