4 Saint Agnes Well, London, EC1Y 1BE
This bookshop is unique in several ways. It is located in an underground station and it is nowhere near Camden Lock (it used to be there). It’s a left wing bookshop with radical approaches to climate change, contemporary politics and international affairs. Layout is not its strong point but linger and you will discover a fascinatingly diverse range of books. You would be hard pressed to find a collection similar anywhere. My esteemed colleague thought the shop resembled the chaotic assembly of a kid’s bedroom. The shop, because of its location, is very busy at lunch times and during morning and evening rush hours. They don’t pay much attention to their website as it is across the counter sales which most count. They sell cards, trinkets, badges and other stuff.
We spoke to Jake who described himself as an avid reader with catholic tastes and that pretty much describes the appeal of this shop to the casual browser. Don’t go in there with a specific request but allow yourself to be surprised. It is a bookshop designed for random choices and surprising encounters. It books define a particular view of the world so be brave and call in. Your can have your prejudices confirmed, challenged or dismissed. Give it go but steer clear of lunch times if you want time to pause, think and then buy.
[NB. Camden Lock Books closed on July 23rd 2019, after 18 years of trading in London’s Old Street, mainly due to the pressures of rising business rates and rent. This independent shop in London’s Old Street, owned by Jason Burley, who also co-owns Burley Fisher Books in east London (see elsewhere on this site), now works at Burley Fisher Books and on his rare books business. Our review was from a visit in February 2019]