Bookshops in Popular Culture
It’s no secret that we adore bookshops. And not just the real ones! So, whilst we’re all stuck at home and missing our bookshops, we thought we would share a few wonderful bookstores you can visit from the safety of your own living room.
In this classic film from 1999, a bookshop owner’s life changes when he crosses paths with a famous movie star. William Thacker owns The Travel Book Company – a small, cosy bookshop in London’s Notting Hill. It was inspired by a real shop called The Travel Bookshop whose owners did not want the building and interior to be used for the film, so the makers of Notting Hill recreated it for the film instead. Unfortunately, the bookshop that inspired Thacker’s fictional store closed in 2011, however, a new company bought the shop and it is now named The Notting Hill Bookshop. Perhaps as a nod to the film, and the shop that came before it, a small section of the store is called The Travel Book Co.
As booklovers, book-appreciators and book fanatics we tend to get excited when we see bookshops pop up in the media… unless they are associated with something – or someone – slightly more sinister. You (2018) is a thriller, based on the novel by Caroline Kepnes, which explores the dramatic and toxic relationship between Joe Goldberg – a bookshop owner – and Guinevere Beck – a student and budding writer. Goldberg does not own the shop but clearly runs things his own way. We do not want to spoil this too much for anyone who has not watched it yet, but never has there been a bookstore and a bookseller that we want to happen upon less than this one.
In real life, of course, it is a different story. The bookshop that they used for filming is Logos bookstore in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Yorkville. Instead of a sinister and unsettling Joe, customers are greeted by two friendly cats. The façade and front of the store are both real and were used in the show, but, and you may be relieved to hear this, the basement that makes the fictional bookstore so unsettling does not exist in real life. So, when it is safe to do so, perhaps some of us can visit Logos and dispel any creepy associations the bookshop might have obtained from this Netflix series.
You’ve Got Mail
Is anyone sick of the fight between corporations/chains and independent bookstores yet? Because here at The Publishing Post, we are not. You’ve Got Mail is a charming film from 1998 in which two business rivals – one, an independent children’s bookstore owner and the other, owner of a large chain bookstore – fall in love over the internet. Kathleen Keely owns the charming independent bookstore The Shop Around The Corner, carrying on the family business from her beloved mother. The shop is small but colourful and bright and decorated with glowing lights, brought to life by the customers and the people who work there. In contrast, Joe Fox is in the family business of Fox & Sons Books – a massive chain bookstore that opens a branch in Keely’s neighbourhood. The Shop Around The Corner is treasured by not only Keely herself, but the community surrounding it with children coming in for storytelling and the personal touch that only an independent bookstore can provide.
However, this comes under threat when Joe Fox comes to town and brings with him a new branch: the shop itself is like a large shopping centre with bright walls offering children’s books and more. The film follows the pair in two ways: interacting in life and person as business rivals and communicating via the Internet as close friends, and maybe something more…
While this film may nod to the serious tension between independent and chain bookstores, it is also filled with wit, love and feel-good moments. A 2-for-1 in terms of bookstore content and a must-watch.
This sitcom follows bad-tempered bookshop owner Bernard Black and his eccentric assistant, Manny. A hilarious sitcom, this is a popular watch among book lovers. Bloomsbury independent bookshop Collinge & Clark was used as the exterior, which still stands today.