20-22 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ
020 7923 7507
@ArtwordsBooks / @ArtwordsMags
Mon-Fri 10.30am-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
Artwords has been selling art books in London for over 10 years and despite the problems facing the book trade generally, the business is going from strength to strength. The company now has two stores in the east end of London, having moved into this corner shop on Broadway Market in 2009. The owner, Ben Hillwood-Harris, spent some time and effort getting the shop design right and commissioned bespoke shelving to best display the range of books covering art, photography, fashion, graphic design, architecture, food culture and to a lesser extent philosophy and art history.
One of the reasons for the new store’s success is its location on one of east London’s busiest and most transformed shopping streets, with a popular Saturday Market that has become a major attraction in the last ten years. Artwords arrived just as this street began to boom, as Ben puts it:
‘Hackney is the only area in the country in which more bookshops have opened than closed. On Saturdays there are two booksellers trading from the market and three bookshops including our store – its like Charing Cross Road East.’
Another reason for the store’s success has been the growing interest in modern art and design in recent years with places like Tate and the Saatchi Gallery leading the way. Ben explains that the real skill in this market is to anticipate trends and constantly source cutting-edge books to keep things fresh:
‘We’re hoping to show our customers new things and to surprise them, we’re showing them books and magazines that have just come out… So they visit us to get one book and find other titles they hadn’t expected. Local artists and designers often come here just to get inspiration..’
Like all good bookshops, Artwords is selective in its stock and uses large table top displays to attract customers to particular favourites many of which are not to be found in high street stores. The Hoxton Mini Press can’t be found on the shelves of your local WH Smith, but here they are handsomely displayed and selling well.
Artwords is also an important outlet for art and culture magazines that are beautifully produced in relatively small quantities and sell for as much as £20. A large area of shelving is given over to these publications with names such as Kinfolk and Like the Wind which will not be familiar to many, but are a strong draw for the art community of east London.
Ben and his team of eight booksellers are chuffed with the way things are going, but don’t intend to rest on their laurels with plans to expand the number of book signings and events and develop further their online presence. If you want to enjoy the Broadway experience, this shop is best visited on a Saturday when the market is in full swing. Broadway Bookshop and Donlon Books are just a few doors away.
Artwords is surrounded by great places to relax with The Dove offering good food and a pint, F. Cooke serving traditional pie and mash and the smarter Market Café with seating outside on fine days.
69 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY
020 7729 2000
Liverpool Street or Old Street LU/Rail
Mon-Fri 10.30am-7pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12noon-6pm
This is an extract from our forthcoming edition of Book Lovers’ London.