The London Book Shop Map on the iPhone

Alice McKeever, The Literary Platform

For those of us who enjoy spaces outside of our screens, there remains a world beyond. (Well unless you believe this lot.)

The independent bookshop has become the most bemoaned victim of the brick and mortar massacre: they are so lovely, so calming, so thought-provoking. What about serendipity? What about community?

If you plan on descending on the capital this December (or are unlucky enough to live here) there exists a beautiful free app that will help you satisfy your gift buying and entertainment needs, and support the high street all in one.

The London Bookshop Map was founded in 2011 by Louise O’Hare (Afterall, Publish & Be Damned) to help promote London’s independent bookshops and support contemporary artists. The organisation prints a map each year complete with a piece of text-based artwork from a new artist. Today they release the digital version on the iPhone.

This year’s physical map features work from Dora Garcia and is quite a lovely object, here’s mine:

LondonBookShopMap

The reverse is printed with a single story from Garcia’s collaborative project All The Stories and is released today along side the iPhone app.

The app itself carries a host of additional art and information in its tiny digital body. Starting with the basics you can, with location services on, find the nearest indie bookshop to you, at any given moment. Handy. You can also search the map for shops by subject and location, to reveal the nearest given esoteric bookseller. As soon as I’ve finished this I’m going out to find some magic at Treadwell Books. If you are up for a journey, you can also search shops by subject alone and get a list of all the registered Fashion (say) bookshops in London. It’s good looking, clean and quick.

Next up, some extra-curricular activity: clicking on Tell Me A Story brings up a 4 line bizarre but intriguing tale. This part of the app is an extension of the artist Dora Garcia’s work that is featured on the physical map. The project, entitled Twenty-three million, five hundred and eighty-six thousand, four hundred and ninety stories, generates new stories from Dora Garcia’s aforementioned project All The Stories – the title being the theoretical number of stories possible. Each new story is posted on tumblr as well as the app.

I’ve had a few clicks and they are truly strange, haunting and sometimes hilarious titbits. As is to be expected from robot literature.

Fun, cute and entertaining. It does what it says on the tin, and some more too. If you are in London at any point this December, this app will provide you with some fantastic off-the-beat-and-track sight seeing, as well as gifts for all the family. Two birds?

You can pick up your own free copy of the print London Bookshop Map from your local independent bookshop.

www.thelondonbookshopmap.org

@LondonBookShopM

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