London Bookstores Go Rogue as No Wi-Fi Zones
What do literary tourists look for when they visit the British Isles? Often it’s the quaint, old-fashioned bookshops that provide the perfect excuse to browse uninterrupted and to disconnect from the world. Until recently, the trend for barista-made coffee and high-speed Wi-Fi was considered by some in the city’s bookish crowd to be ruining London’s centuries-old tradition of disconnected browsing.
But a crop of bookshops is rebelling against frenzied online engagement and is creating environments where the real-life, internet-free book browse is the most effective way to expand your social and professional networks. And in countering the internet overload, some stores are proving to be among London’s hottest hangouts.
Libreria Books, opened in February as a Wi-Fi- and coffee-free zone.
Leading the rebels is Libreria Books in London’s East End, which is a Wi-Fi- and coffee-free zone. It was opened in February by Rohan Silva, a former policy adviser to the former prime minister David Cameron, and co-founder of Second Home, a members’ club providing a work space for entrepreneurs.
这场反抗的领军者是伦敦东区的Libreria书店，这里没有无线网络，也没有咖啡。它是今年2月开张的，店主罗恩·席尔瓦(Rohan Silva)曾是前首相戴维·卡梅伦(David Cameron)的政策顾问，他也是会员制俱乐部“第二个家”(Second Home)的联合创始人，那里为创业者提供办公空间。
“We’re celebrating human curation over algorithmic rhythms,” said Mr. Silva, who was spurred to open his shop after experiencing a common affliction for London’s bibliophiles — the repetitive, grating ring tones of smartphones disrupting the tranquillity of his bookshop experience. “We wanted to get people using their human intuition when they shop for books. You can get Wi-Fi anywhere now, it’s not necessary in a bookshop.”
Libreria is in the company of Tenderbooks (tenderbooks.co.uk), Buchhandlung Walther König (buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de), Lutyens & Rubinstein, (lutyensrubinstein.co.uk) and Word on the Water (facebook.com/wordonthewater), all independent book shops shunning high-speed cables and lattes. Their mantra has drawn a sophisticated, brainy crowd, but its premise is simple: In the digital age, the bookshop should be a refuge, an information overload in its own right.
除了Libreria，还有Tenderbooks(tenderbooks.co.uk)、Buchhandlung Walther König(buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de)、Lutyens & Rubinstein(lutyensrubinstein.co.uk)，以及水上的字(Word on the Water，facebook.com/wordonthewater)等独立书店，都不提供高速网络和咖啡。它们的原则吸引了一批聪明、有头脑的人，但前提却很简单：在数字化时代，书店可以成为一个逃避信息过载的避难所。
“If someone gets a phone call, they leave the shop. It’s the same with the internet — people just know this isn’t the space for being online,” said Tamsin Clark, owner of Tenderbooks, which opened in 2014 in Covent Garden, a lively neighborhood packed with theaters and rare-book shops. “The thing about books is that they’re more interesting than the internet — we assume that everyone who comes here believes that.”
Creative downtime means embracing slow over fast and rejecting years of bookshop cool that’s embodied by overeager baristas and a goofy Wi-Fi-code scrawled on a chalkboard. The internet-free bookshop campaigns for the days of haughty glances over the tops of reading glasses, gentle tutting at noise, and hours spent simply considering the words on the page.
Perhaps the most serious of the bookshops is Lutyens & Rubinstein. Since 2009 its Notting Hill building has been divided between a bookshop and a literary agency — and the presence of the highbrow mood of the agency is what sets the tone for the prevailing silence of the reading room. “You wouldn’t even dare ask for the Wi-Fi code here,” a customer there said recently.
这些书店中，或许最严肃的还要算Lutyens & Rubinstein了。这栋坐落在诺丁山的建筑自从2009年起开始分为书店和文学代理公司两部分，代理公司的高雅气息更是为书店的阅读室带来了一种静悄悄的氛围。“你根本不敢开口问无线网络密码，”前不久，一名顾客说道。
The ambience at Tenderbooks, meanwhile, tends to be a little more relaxed: “The internet can cause so much stress; we want people to come in and be more focused than they are online,” said Ms. Clark, the owner. “We’ve got a record player, we’re small and intimate. People respond really well to that. I think it’s necessary in today’s cultural climate. And because we’re in the center of London, we offer creative downtime in the heart of the city.”
Taking its name from Jorge Luis Borges’s cult 1941 classic “The Library of Babel,” a story in which every book ever written is reprinted in a 410-page edition, Libreria emphasizes a meditative experience that its owner said Wi-Fi would ruin. On Libreria’s floor-to-ceiling shelves, books are thematically curated by a rotating British who’s-who cast of the literary, political and media world, who has dreamed up book categories like “Mothers, Madonnas and Whores” and “The Sea and the Sky.” Next up as curator is the recently elected mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Libreria书店的名字来自豪尔赫·路易斯·博尔赫斯(Jorge Luis Borges)1941年怪异的经典之作《巴别图书馆》(The Library of Babel)，这篇小说中写到，世界上所有的书籍都被浓缩在一本410页的书中，这家书店强调一种沉思的体验，店主说，无限网络会破坏它。Liberia的书架高至天花板，书店邀请英国文学、政治与媒体界的名家轮流担任策展人，按主题展示书籍，谁能想到会有“母亲、圣母与妓女”和“大海与天空”这种图书分类呢？接下来书店邀请的策展人是最新当选伦敦市市长的萨迪克·汗(Sadiq Khan)。
The distraction-free library ethos is actually a city tradition, from the private tranquil libraries of stately homes such as North London’s 17th-century estate Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath to the British Library’s Reading Room in King’s Cross — a place where the etiquette policy strongly discourages the presence of mobile phones entirely with tactfully placed signs. It’s in this tradition that these bookshops operate.
Mr. Silva of Libreria Books said “an old-fashioned space” is clearly appealing to book lovers. He said his shop has had twice as many customers as anticipated, with visitors from as far afield as Australia and China. Confronted with a bookshelf curated by the popular new mayor or surrounded by first editions, who wants to download a morning full of emails?