Former FT digital editor to direct new East London bookshop

Former FT digital editor to direct new East London bookshop

A former Financial Times digital editor has been appointed as the director of a new East London bookshop which intends to target millennials.

Sally Davies, former digital editor of the FT Weekend has been appointed as director of the shop, which has been named as Libreria.

The Bookseller reported last month that Rohan Silva and his business partner Sam Aldenton, the founders of Second Home, a “utopian workspace” for creative companies, are set to open an independent bookshop on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane in East London for their next venture.

They have decided to name the bookshop Libreria, which means “bookshop” in Spanish and Italian, as a nod to the store’s cosmopolitan outlook.

The outlet, which is set to open in the new year, draws inspiration from Jorge Borges’ short story "The Library of Babel" and seeks to be "unlike any other bookseller, using a creative approach to curation and community-building".

The company has employed two artists from the Slade School of Fine Art to cut Libreria’s shelves by hand and is picking a “considered selection of books, from rare treasures to texts every reader should know.”

Alongside Davies, former Daunt Books bookseller Paddy Butler has been named as the shop’s assistant manager.

Davies was the digital editor of FT Weekend and the technology and innovation correspondent. She has a background in law, cultural history and philosophy, and has worked as a litigator at the firm that is now Allens Linklaters in Australia before starting her career in journalism.

Davies said: "Libreria is trying to reimagine the kinds of conversations and communities you can build around books. We’re rooted in an area of London with a rich history of print, and we see ourselves as part of that vibrant tradition. For me, as a writer and digital journalist, storytelling and innovation are my vocation, so I’m delighted to be bringing these passions together in the bookselling world."

She added: "Drawing on advice and guidance from industry experts, Libreria has been a long time in the making and we are excited to share our ambitious vision for a new kind of bookselling in the New Year."

The bookshop will house a bar, DJ turntables and an in-house printing press.

Last month, Silva told The Bookseller: "We think there is a big unmet demand for the type of bookshop we want to produce. If you offer a bookshop with the right experience and space to the young crowd in London, there is a big commercial opportunity.

"If you want to open a bookshop doing what everyone else is doing— and has done for 30 or 40 years—it might be tough. But if you are creating a bookshop as a real space for an experience and events, where you are just as likely to hear a new DJ set as find a new author, you can really do very well."