Final chapter as Islington bookshop has to close

A specialist bookshop owner forced to close her store said she “despairs” over the bleak future facing many small trading streets.

The Amwell Book Company in Amwell Street, Islington, has for the past 10 years sold second-hand books in art, architecture and photography, counting Libertines frontman Pete Doherty and photographer David Bailey among her past customers.

But the shop, which will continue as an online store, has fallen victim to rising overheads and the increased use of the internet and will close at the end of this month.

Owner Charlotte Robinson, who bought the freehold from Islington Council in 2007, said she feels “terrible” for the other shopkeepers in Amwell Street as footfall is likely to drop once again with the loss of her store, which followed in the footsteps of independent shop L’Epicerie along the same street in August.

She said: “The Kindle doesn’t affect us, as we mostly sell art, architecture and photographs. But because the internet has a fantastic availability of images, for casual reference people are now using the internet rather than buying books. The sheer speed of change in peoples’ reading and knowledge acquisition habits is incredible.”

Mrs Robinson, who has owned a second hand book store on and off since the 1970s, continued: “Our takings through the shop are down 50 per cent in the last year, and that’s something that you can’t do a lot about.”

Not only is she concerned about the future of independent shops in locations such as Amwell Street, she is worried about the future of bookshops altogether – at least six other independent book stores have closed this month elsewhere in the country.

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A sale is currently underway until October 1 and after that the books will be available online at or visiting by appointment. Shop opening times are between 11am and 6pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.