Saturday, 28 January 2012

Russian billionaire leads a London bookshop revolution

It is a literary innovation that will delight London's influx of Russians – and intrigue the intelligence services. Waterstones will open a Russian-language "bookshop" within its flagship Piccadilly store next month. Russian-speaking assistants will be recruited for the shop, which is the personal passion of Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire whose A&NN Group bought the high-street bookseller last year in a £53m deal. Mr Mamut, who says he enjoys reading high-quality literature in Russian and English, has named the new store "Slova", Russian for "words". It will be housed on the ground floor mezzanine level of the Piccadilly branch and contain almost 5,000 titles. Slova is expected to become a meeting point for the more literary-minded Russians in the capital. As well as stocking the classics of Russian literature – Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov – it will showcase commercial writers such as Boris Akunin and Polina Dashkova, Russia's most successful crime author, who has sold 40 million books. The move is the next stage in Mr Mamut's plan to revitalise Waterstones under James Daunt, its new managing director, by serving local communities. Mr Daunt told The Bookseller magazine: "For Russophiles and the large, vibrant Russian community in London, we aim to make Slova an irresistible literary and cultural destination. One won't be surprised at the source of the idea, given Waterstones' ownership." Mr Mamut, an oligarch with close links to the Kremlin, holds a stake in the Russian publisher Azbooka-Atticus, whose titles Waterstones will stock in Slova. Slova will also work with Academia Rossica, the Russian culture and arts foundation based in London, arranging author events, book launches and other activities. ...

1 comment:

languagehat said...

Very interesting -- if I ever get to London again, this will be my first stop!