The Book Barge doesn’t sell many books about barges. In fact, it doesn’t sell many books at all.
There are three good reasons for this; insufficient shelving, haphazard opening hours and a proclivity to swap stock instead – largely, but by no means exclusively, for Victoria Sponge cake.
What we do sell is carefully chosen to offer an alternative to bestseller lists and the tripe you’ll often find in non-specialist chain stores and supermarkets. We’re small enough to have read almost every title we display, and strong enough in our convictions of what great books should be to then recommend these to readers.
The Book Barge is a misnomer – it’s actually a 60′ cruiser stern narrowboat… called Joseph.
Boat-struck in Warwickshire one frosty morning in February 2009, we snapped him up and spent most of the next four months sanding off rust and slapping on his signature black-and-cream coat. Then we filled his insides with books and opened shop. Joseph rather likes his debonair Book Barge alter ego. He’s chugged most canals and navigable rivers of England and Wales and even dipped a toe in the Bristol Channel. He used to pretend to be named after Joseph Conrad until he heard Salman Rushdie did the same. That put him right off.
When not serving as an aquatic emporium, The Book Barge has also been used as a diving platform, bird sanctuary, crime scene, gig venue and home.