Ship ahoy, and readers too. This great old barge from the 1920's is a floating and travelling treasure trove of second hand books. Called Word on the Water, this week she is moored on the Regent's Canal in London, next week she will be in the east end; offering her wares to another lucky bunch of readers.
The boat started life as a coal barge in Holland in the 1920's. Sometime in the '60's it was converted into a house. Last summer it turned into this cozy bookstore which has been retro-fitted for recessionary times.
It's a comfortable and welcoming place. The old wood stove makes it cozy for customers (and cats). It is fed with waste wood and exudes a sleepy, nice warmth. The whole boat is fitted out with reclaimed shop pieces and bits of vintage furniture. Some of the book shelves are made of old wine cases, others are recycled from stores. There is comfy old vintage furniture and rugs, old breakfronts which are now book shelves and the original ship's wheel.
There are three solar panels on the top deck of the boat. They work well, even in the grey, wet and cold months of winter.
One of the employees still lives on the boat and the owner lives on a boat next to it. It's an independent book store and a way of life. As one writes "we are forced to make do with waking up at 10am, watching the moorhen chicks and swans over coffee in the morning, then discussing literature and promoting reading on a boat all day, making just enough cash for a modest meal out for supper."
Oh yes, what about the books? Intelligent, sophisticated, erudite and eclectic.