The new Foyles Birmingham store opened today (30th September) featuring audio-visual ‘author pods’ reading stories to customers.
In a new move for Foyles, the Birmingham’s Grand Central Station bookshop contains three audio-visual ‘author pods’ and a children’s ‘story pod’ where customers can hear and see best-selling writers read their work aloud.
The first authors to feature in the AV pods, designed by Audionation, will be Simon Schama, Neil Oliver and some of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted authors yet to be announced. Children’s author Michael Rosen will also be performing some of his new poems in the children’s ‘story pod’.
Good intro to the new Foyles bookshop, by the FT’s architecture critic, Edwin Heathcote
When we enter the new building, Lifschutz points out the old stage in the atrium where the Sex Pistols once played. Now it will be an overflow area for the children’s book section. This was the school where fashion designers Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Stella McCartney and John Galliano as well as artists Frank Auerbach and Gilbert and George studied, a warren of dingy corridors and paint-splashed, timeworn rooms. That interior is gone, replaced by a light, bright, open space with staggered mezzanines, so it is always possible to glimpse the next level, half a floor above you. There is no luxury shopfitting here, no confusion with the smooth artifice of a fashion store or a mall. Instead there are 4.6 miles of bookshelves, exposed ducting and lights in the ceilings and an emphasis on books as beautiful, tangible objects. It is a building of exceptional clarity, a fine series of spaces – even if I might have been happy to see something scuzzier, retaining an echo of the original Foyles’ chaos or the colour-spattered walls of the art school.
This is, of course, not just a place for books. Modern retailing, as we are endlessly told, is about the experience. And Foyles was in the vanguard of “added value”. The readings, book clubs, literary lunches and events have been happening here since the 1920s. With a spacious glass-walled new gallery overlooking the atrium and the reinstatement of Ray’s jazz café, Foyles and the architects have made every effort to make this Lifschutz’s place where things can happen.
from Time Out:
if you haven’t paid a visit to this central London institution, we urge you to pop in for a cuppa before it closes on Saturday May 31.