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London riots spur bookstores into action

August 9, 2011 |  8:00 am

London riots
Riots broke out in London on Saturday, and unrest has continued, spreading from Tottenham to other neighborhoods, including Hackney, Croyden and the upscale Notting Hill. Vehicles have been set on fire, rioters have faced down police and shops have been looted.

Looting is a real concern for Britain's largest bookstore chains, which have decided to close some shops early on advice from police. The Bookseller reports:

A Waterstone's spokesperson said it was closing stores early depending on police advice but only the shop on Clapham High Street had closed. She said: "We were fortunate as none of our stores appears to have received any damage."

A WH Smith spokesperson said it had closed at most six stores across the stricken areas in Brixton, Wood Green and Enfield. A spokesperson said: "The shops have closed temporarily on police advice. Our priority is the safety of our staff. Like all other retailers we are in close contact with police and will reopen the affected shops when we can do so."

A few bookstores have decided to stay open. In one of the more volatile neighborhoods, the independent bookstore Pages of Hackney has been tweeting the events. On Monday, the store tweeted, "10 mounted policemen have joined the riot police outside the shop, which we did close in the end, shortly before Harris on the corner looted." On Tuesday, the store was open for business again and keeping British traditions alive: "We're open, we're ok, morale is low," the store wrote, "but we're drinking a lot of tea."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A masked rioter in Hackney, North London. Credit: Kerim Okten / EPA

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