The notion of the bookshop, like the record store, has a kind of nostalgic omnipotence to anyone who was born pre-1990. They are both places where dreams swim throughout dust-coated shelves, as cynical part-time artists try their best not to swear at customers popping in for a simple Christmas gift. Magma Books is one of those rare places that survived. Indeed, having been established in 2000, it came in against the tide of chain store buy-outs and independent malnutrition. Its success is thus all the more impressive.
Magma Books doesn’t claim to know everything, and that is part of the charm. There are no fresh university graduates here telling you that you absolutely must read Kurt Vonnegut. Indeed, quite to the contrary, Magma has a sense of mutual respect. It provides its customers with the very best level of service by understanding that they know more about what they want than anybody else. This, in turn, has seen them evolve into a place where anyone who truly loves reading goes, not only to find what they want, but also to discover it.
The shop was initially set up in Covent Garden, with the location largely selected due to its proximity to one of the founder’s favourite sandwich shops. Such has been its success throughout the little over a decade it has been operating, however, that now it boasts two further stores – in Clerkenwell and Manchester. Both London stores are open from Monday-Saturday, with the Clerkenwell branch opening an hour earlier than Covent Garden at 10am and both closing at 7pm. The Covent Garden branch is also open for six hours from Midday on Sundays.
It is not only books they offer either. Indeed, simply by browsing the website you are able to choose from design products, DVDs and other digital products, eco products, fashion, flip and pop-up books, games, jewellery, kitchen and homeware, lights and furniture, posters and prints, stationery and “weird stuff”. With an incredible array of books across numerous niche areas, a visit to Magma is truly a must for any book or creative arts lover.