It's almost January, which means the fourth annual London Bookshop Crawl is under 6 weeks away! I've been fairly rubbish about blogging about the bookshop crawl since we started the book box, but that doesn't mean I've been any less excited about it. In case you're unfamiliar with the madness, it all started back in 2016 when I basically asked twitter if anybody would like to explore some London bookshops with me. Somehow I ended up with 30 people, most of whom I'd never met before, but who (in grand bookshop crawl tradition) turned out to be lovely. It was an entirely exhilarating day and we decided then and there to make it an annual thing.
In 2017 something happened (I'm still not sure what, except maybe that I put the event on Facebook?) and over 1000 people wanted to take part! This meant some fairly hurried modification of the event, and thus began the expansion to it being a city-wide event rather than just a few bookshops as well as the addition of The Big List. Then in 2018 we decided to go the whole hog - extended the event to an entire weekend rather than just a Saturday, and added guided groups and events. It was fantastic and of course, we're now doing it all again in February 2019!
The idea of the bookshop crawl is that it provides an excuse (if you needed one) to get together with friends, or join a group and make new ones, and visit as many bookshops as you can while buying books with people who understand book buying and won't roll their eyes at your or ask you if you really need more books...
It's a huge labour of love and entirely non-profit (all the money made from ticket sales goes towards publicity for the event and paying other people for things they charge us for) but we absolutely love seeing all of the love for bookshops and being such a part of encouraging that.
I've discovered new bookshops on the bookshop crawls which have become firm favourites and which I now make it a point to go to whenever I'm in London (hi Word on the Water!). I've met so many wonderful new people through the event, and thanks to last years' inaugural Book Swap Brunch (returning this year as two separate events - join the waiting list here if you're interested) even swapped loads of my unwanted books for ones I definitely did want!
If you're on a budget we've got a map just for the second hand and antiquarian bookshops taking part, and a separate one for the plethora of Oxfam Bookshops joining in. If you have access issues there is an accessible map with details of the nearest accessible stations to each shop. Each year we ask people for feedback after the event and go off that when planning the next years' event. Some of our 2019 events are already sold out, but there are plenty of tickets left if you'd like to join us and meet new people, or you can access the 2019 planning resources through the Plan Your Crawl section of the website and organise your own weekend. Either way make sure you join our mailing list so you don't miss any important announcements!
If you'd like to hear other people's experiences of our bookshop crawls over the years, don't just take our word that they're great. Below are some other people's account of their London Bookshop Crawls. We hope you'll join us in February!
Changing Pages (2017)
Devouring Texts (2018)
Elena Square Eyes (2017)