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The Broadway Bookshop in Hackney is our July bookshop of the month. Specialising in literary fiction, they also have a good range of poetry, non-fiction, and children’s books. This is a shop that sounds as though it is perfectly settled in the local community. Ilona the owner has answered our questions, her answers are thoughtful, smart, amusing, and I will admit that I didn’t know that particular secret about books!
When was your bookshop born and how did that come about?
2005. I had worked in several independent bookshops and I thought: I know enough to start my own now. It's now or never!
Tell us about the journey and the changes you have seen over the years.
Whilst we haven't expanded in space we have expanded tremendously in content and thankfully in volume of customers too. The street has changed from being a sleepy family high street to a vibrant hub of international visitors, although the core is still lovely locals – families and shopkeepers alike.
Describe your shop in three words.
Intelligent, intimate, in need of dusting (sometimes).
Has the rise of digital retailers affected your bookshop, what were your first thoughts about ebooks and do you feel the same now?
It would be hard to say what effect ebooks has had on our business. Some, surely. E-readers can certainly be a useful way to read on holiday, for example, without having to actually carry the books... But our customers, in particular, have always celebrated the physicality of books – the objects – and we don't foresee that changing anytime in the future.
What is important in a great bookshop, tell us what sets you apart and makes you special.
For us the most important thing is to tune into to the various interests of our community and stock the books our customers want to read, but also continue to surprise them and stock the books they did not know they wanted to read.
Tell us about the books you love to recommend.
The sad, the mad, but never the bad.
What is your favourite part of your bookshop?
The wonderful customers who enliven the space.
Tell us a secret about books.
They can change your life – everyone knows that. But what some people don't know is that books can also be used to change a car tyre.
Apart from yourselves, which other bookshop(s) do you love to spend time in?
Hurlingham Books - The secondhand bookshop on Putney Bridge. And the London Review Bookshop.
What else do our members need to know about you?
We can't stock everything, but we can order most things for delivery the next day.
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Our website is: www.broadwaybookshophackney.com