We have slightly fallen in love with this app version of the map that lists the 110 independent bookshops in London. Over Christmas it proved a super handy present-finder GSP and we’re confident that it’s going to be one of our smartphone mainstays of the New Year, as we’ve already discovered a cool clutch of places we can’t believe we didn’t already know about (!)
Not only does it use your location to show where the nearest independent bookshop is, but it also gives a succinct biog of each shop, highlighting its areas of strength and special interest. It also groups bookshops by specialism (from magic or motoring to theatre or teen fiction), which is great for hunting down left-field or second-hand books that are not to be found in the homogenized selection being pushed in every mainstream bookstore chain.
Perhaps most entertaining, though, is the quirky in the truest sense “tell me a story” function, a novel-cum-computer programme that generates a new 4-line story from an existing text every time the “story button” is pressed. Each then becomes part of an epic compilation entitled Twenty-three million, five hundred and eighty-six thousand, four hundred and ninety stories, a sort of constantly evolving, interactive literary artwork. It’s quite bonkers when you do it, but rather fun in an idle moment. We liked this one: “A man is picnicking with his family by a lake. The woman dreams the sea is a woman in love with her husband. They have antipodal existences, but the other has a clear advantage over him. He exist all the time, even when he sleeps.” Weird, sure – but wonderful too.