The Like A Woman bookshop

In celebration of International Women's day, Household's marketing team pays a visit to Penguin's literary pop up.

For International Women’s Day 2018, Waterstones and Penguin Books have teamed up to celebrate female authors, past, present and future. The weeklong retail and event space sells books by over 240 different female authors, from Mary Wollstonecraft to JK Rowling. Despite a grimy concrete floor that reminds you of the pop up’s temporary nature, the space is bright and calm, with simple displays that let the books speak for themselves.

As concepts go, The Like A Woman Bookshop is a great way to help people discover female writers that they may not have otherwise. Admittedly, the space could have been a more shoppable and done more to tell the writers’ stories. Nevertheless, the concept was clearly successful, as half way through the week staff remarked that stocks were already running low.

Yet while safe spaces and gendered spaces are hot topics right now, do female-writers only bookshops further women’s voices in literature, or merely continue to separate women’s fiction from the already male dominated canon?

When brands tap into the buzz surrounding events like International Women’s Day, the challenge is to put change into action through internal working practices, rather than merely creating one-off, gimmicky activations. As Brewdog’s Pink IPA launch demonstrated, rushed PR stunts can easily backfire.

Rather than pushing purchases, The Like A Woman Bookshop focuses on placemaking to create a welcoming atmosphere for guests. There is huge gender inequality in the creative industries today (only 11% of creative directors in the design industry are women*) and the pop up aims to tackle this with daily talks and workshops to showcase contemporary female voices, and create a space for open discussion.

Literature written by women has a long history of being overlooked, despite its huge cultural impact. While segregated literary collections will not rewrite history, or solve gender inequality today, the contribution of women’s writers should certainly be celebrated and when better to do so than on International Women’s Day.

The Like A Women Bookshop is open on 1-3 Rivington Street, 5th to 9th March.
*Design Week, 2017

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