All Aboard London’s Fabulous Floating Bookshop • Word On The Water
London’s fleet of bookshops has a funky figurehead, and you’ll find it floating on Regent’s Canal. Word on the Water has been bobbing on the waters of London since 2011, and like the pirate ships of old, it’s hauling some sweet booty. Except instead of gold coins and purloined treasures, this place is carrying a whole lotta books. If you do happen upon some treasure, though, be sure to splash it in this book barge.
Word on the Water stocks a neat collection of new and used books, filling every nook and cranny. Whether you’re looking for poetry on the pond or literature on the lagoon, this is your spot. Browse the shelves outside, or head inside for stacks of books on a huge range of subjects, warmed by a cosy stove. I mean, when else are you going to have the chance to read Austen on a 1920s barge?
It has stared down the usual problems facing bookshops – online retailers and Netflix-shaped distractions – but Word on the Water has also overcome some unique challenges. Before they secured a permanent mooring, they were forced to move each fortnight by canal authorities, which is not a problem Waterstones face.
More dramatically, the barge nearly sank several years ago after the interior flooded. Thankfully, the vessel nicknamed ‘The London Bookbarge’ has dropped anchor for the foreseeable future.
Whilst books are the main attraction, you’ll find even more to entertain you here. Word on the Water run talks on engaging topics such as politics, art, feminism, and technology. Meanwhile, the barge’s roof welcomes musicians and performers for open mic sessions, as well as the occasional reading or poetry slam. On a gorgeous summer’s eve, there are few better places to be, and in the winter, well, it’s known to look just like this!
The likes of Coal Drops Yard are handily placed next door, so you can pair that book learnin’ with a wander through the shops and a bite to eat. Your biggest problem at Word on the Water is picking out the perfect book. Maybe a tale of the high seas would do nicely? Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Also published on Medium.