- Tel: (020) 7437 5660
- Address: 113-119 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0EB
- Locale: Soho
- Tube: Tottenham Court Road
- Website: http://foyles.co.uk/
Traditionally London's largest bookshop on Charing Cross Road and now thankfully responding to the threat from modern American-style bookstores.
The excellence and massive range of their stock was always diminished by the sheer unhelpfulness of the sullen staff and a complex system of payment which involved getting a form to buy a book and taking it to a second till. This may have been due to the fact that until a couple of years ago staff were on short six month contracts and thus never really cared much about the store.
There is a certain decaying grandeur and seediness to Foyles which was allegedly misrun for years by a lady who paid her staff virtually nothing. This combined with the shop's chaotic organisation meant they paid her back by stealing the stock.
It's now under new management and cleaned up and they even have telephone and interweb ordering. (If you are lucky you will receive someone else's bill, or someone else's books even using this method, or you may not be charged at all. -- Kaet.) The "get a bill and pay elsewhere" system is gone and they are re-fitting the entire store to look more modern. There is now a coffee shop Ray's Jazz Cafe in the store on the first floor (next to Computing) and they have an art gallery on the second floor which is usually worth popping in to.
They may even answer questions like "do you have book X" with a smile rather than snapping "well? do you know who the publisher is?". (Nah - they still ask who the publisher is - AlexMcLintock)
(Could this be because you have given them garbled and incorrect information about the book you require? Looking for a needle in a haystack that size would be enough to annoy anyone)
[Hatchards]? is more civilised.
(Another opinion: However, for technical or arcane books Foyles is still in a league of its own, even when also compared to the traditional shops of the old University towns.)
Seconded. It's the only bookstore in London that had the novels of Gustav Meyrink (The Angel of the West Window, The Golem, et. al.) AND they're providing a new home for [Ray's Jazz Shop]?.
Thirded: its my first stop for the esoteric religous books, or strange things that my mum has discovered that she likes that month. On the upper floors (outside of the computer dept) the staff seem quite friendly, and seem to know where things are
Let's give credit where it's due: Foyles still has a lot of problems, some of them the result of trying to become more like Borders and Waterstones, but it is a fantastic bookshop. It's the only place to go if you want something more unusual as staff still have some input into what stock is chosen (for now). As for service, the information desk appears to be a fairly hellish place, so if you stop there to ask questions, you're simply asking for trouble. Head to other desks and floors and the service seems vastly improved (in most cases). Hatchards is dull and pedestrian in comparison. My only gripe with Foyles is that they scrapped the wonderful Silver Moon Women's Bookshop on the third floor. On the plus side, Unsworth's now sell rare and antiquarian books there.
The nearest pub to Foyles is Pillars Of Hercules, W1D 4DJ which is a frequent haunt of Foyles staff. Also nearby is Milroys a whiskey shop with a small bar downstairs. There are other drinks but very few of them. You can ask for a bottle of champagne in the bar at prices little more than the retail.