Our first two itineraried days have already taken us on a tour of the city and a couple trips into the London Underground. The hop-on bus tour was a pretty great overview of major landmarks. We even saw a really big clock!
The best stops of the day, though, were our book adventures. We walked down a little lane called Cecil Court. It’s home to a series of shops for collectors, not only of books, but of antique maps, model trains, coins, and other items. Most were closed, as it was a Monday, but we peeped into a few little shops. The bookstores almost exclusively sold volumes of Alice in Wonderland in various editions and bindings, both vintage and new. The cool thing about seeing so many interpretations of Alice’s story is that, this semester, our final Typography II project was an expressive hand-bound book, and one option we had was to adapt a chapter of Alice. Seeing bookshelves upon bookshelves of the same text set (or expressed, or illustrated,) in so many different ways was a cool reminder that a design can have infinite possibilities from the same brief.
Then we visited a chain bookstore, Waterstone’s. To us from the U.S., they seem like a Barnes & Noble. Despite the fact that it wasn’t quaint/local/artsy/et cetera, we were all such nerds about the design books that we spent a ton of time there just browsing and showing each other cool volumes we saw on the shelves. Harry Potter also had a strong 20th anniversary presence. That’s pretty wild. The first book came out in the U.S. on my fifth birthday, and I received it as a gift from my parents, who’d heard a coworker talking about the novel. Like most people around my age, it was a constant presence in my life growing up. So that was pretty cool to see.
Of course, one of our projects for this study abroad is a hand-bound book of found typography, so seeing a variety of different types of binding and covers was interesting research towards that.