I hate to be the bearer of sad news, but yesterday Woolfson & Tay, the lovely independent bookshop in Southwark that I included in my round-up of favorite indie stores in London, announced that it will close down in the new year.
Apparently the catering side of the business (the shop serves hot lunches, cakes and coffe) is doing well, but the book side of the business is not pulling its weight. You can read more about the decision on the firm's blog.
As much as I love the store, I'm not surprised.
In recent months I've felt that the bookshop element has become more and more marginalised, as the food aspect has taken over.
Earlier this week, I visited the shop but found it was almost impossible to browse or to look at the book stock, because there were so many tables and chairs crowding the space. (I did buy two paperbacks though.)
And the smell of wafting cooking as delicious as it is, really isn't conducive to book buying — I associate book shops with the heady smell of paper and ink, not spicy curries. (Perhaps I'm being picky, but I wouldn't want to buy a special book as a gift, just in case the pages had been impregnated with that smell.)
Still, the shop will be sadly missed by many — me included.
I've purchased several paperbacks there over the past year, and have loved and admired the eclectic range, with its emphasis on translated fiction.
I've also attended a couple of events — namely Meike Ziervogel's talk on her debut novella Magda (which I'm still to read) and Canadian author Joseph Boyden's only London appearance to promote The Orenda — which turned out to be real highlights of my literary year.
Woolfson & Tay's presence has added a certain "bling" to an up-and-coming area — and made my lunchtimes a little more exciting (I freelance in a building just around the corner) — so it's sad that it will no longer be there for the community and visitors to enjoy.
Whatever the owners end up doing next, I wish them the very best. They should be proud of what they achieved when the odds were so stacked against them — Southwark will definitely be a poorer place without Woolfson & Tay.