I know, Soho is better known for its theatres, throngs of tourists and its seediness. But Charing Cross Road is best known for its bookshops and I’ve noticed the sheer number of them too, while trying to wind my way through the crowds, trying not get run over by people or traffic.Last week I had the unintentional pleasure of being in Soho early in the morning, when the workday was only just beginning, most of the shops and cafes were closed and the tourists were presumably still in bed. It was lovely. And because I had my camera on me, I decided it was the perfect time to document these bookshops.

(click on pictures to enlarge)
The Book Shops of Charing Cross
Any Amount of Books – a treasure trove of secondhand books.

The Book Shops of Charing Cross
Henry Pordes – yet another antiquarian heaven, and an old and renowned name themselves

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

Koenig Books – one of the last few remaining design-specialist bookshops on the road
Starting from Leicester Square tube station, these book shops seem to progress towards Tottenham Court Road in a roughly decreasing order of specialism. Most of these bookshops on the east side of the road reside on the ground floor of an old housing estate – and thanks to the landlord revising the rents sharply upwards, a number of these bookshops have had to close shutters recently. One of the latest casualties is Shipley Books:

The Book Shops of Charing Cross
R.I.P

Then there are the larger generalist stores towards the Tottenham Court Road side.

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

But the largest of all these is Foyles. This particular branch of Foyles is supposed to be the largest in the UK – and I can personally vouch for their great collection spread over five floors.

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

Foyles, in fact, was the reason I was at Charing Cross Road in the first place – I was here to drop off my prints for the month-long Slow Exposure Exhibition at the Ray’s Jazz Cafe within Foyles. The exhibition went up on Friday, 24th April and will go on until 24th May. Two of my pictures are part of the 28 exhibits but I honestly think some of the other photographers’ work is much more worthy and truly commendable! Do go have a look.

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

The Book Shops of Charing Cross

As I’ve written previously, the Slow Exposure exhibition is part of the Slow Down London Festival and Foyles is running several events as part of the festival. I think it’s a great concept – something each of one us needs to…well, slow down and give a thought to.
The Book Shops of Charing Cross
And if you agree with the thought, take the time out – saunter into one of these bookshops and lose yourself in the books. Browse for hours. Do it slowly. :)
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