Publishers, writers and agents praised the new Waterstones Tottenham Court Road as “fresh” and “funky” at its official opening last night.
Figures from the trade said the largest Waterstones store to open in London in a decade would help to attract a new, younger audience to the book market.
The three-storey space has a "retro" appeal playing to the nearby Soho and British Film Institute (BFI) crowd, with crisp wooden floors on the ground level giving way to exposed industrial concrete in the basement, where the bar and pop up cinema are situated, seating around 60 people. It also sells vinyl and DVDs.
Andrew Franklin, publisher at Profile Books, said: “I think the bookshop is great. It will attract a different audience, a younger audience. If anything is going to drive younger people into bookshops, to read, this kind of bookshop will. It feels fresh and it’s got a whole new range.”
Louise Dobbin, of Repforce Ireland, agreed. She said: “It is fresh and funky, it feels very vibrant and its great to have this kind of look for a bookshop. It’s pleasing to see this. I think the local area will love it.”
Juliet Mabey, publisher at Oneworld, said she had already discussed using the space on the lower ground floor, which features a bar and cinema area, for book launches.
“The space is fantastic, and they have already got an events manager in place who we are beginning to talk to,” Mabey said. “It seems to me physical bookshops are definitely upping their game. Shops have improved which has helped to drive up physical book sales.”
Meanwhile Yomi Ayeni, producer and writer at Articipate Media, said the shop was “bold and alternative”.
“I don’t feel totally comfortable in your average bookshop, but there I do,” he said. “It’s got a cocktail bar – you could bring a first date here. It’s important for people to feel comfortable in a social environment around books.”
When asked how he would describe the style of the bookshop, Michelangelo Bendandi, head of communications for Frieze, said: “I woiuldn’t say it was hipster, but post-hipster. This is not trying too hard. It gets it right.”
Manager Zain Mahmood said that since the store opened just before Christmas on 11th December, sales had already tracked a head of expectations.