W & G Foyle Ltd. (usually called simply Foyles) is a bookshop at 113–119 Charing Cross Road, London, England. Foyles was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest bookshop in terms of shelf area (30 miles/50 kilometres) and number of titles on display.John Walsh, [ Foyles, the bookshop that time forgot] , The Independent, 23 January 2003] But it was equally famed for its anachronistic, eccentric and sometimes infuriating business practices, so much that they also made it a tourist attraction.


The business was founded in 1903 by brothers William and Gilbert Foyle; they moved to the current address in 1906. After failing entrance exams for the civil service, the brothers offered their redundant text books for sale and were inundated by offers. This inspired them to launch a second-hand book business from home.Warren Hoge, [ Christina Foyle, 88, the Queen Of the London Bookstore, Dies] , New York Times, 11 June 1999] Flushed with success they opened a small shop in Peckham where they painted "With all Faith" in gilt letters above the door. In 1904 they opened their first West End shop at 16 Cecil Court and a year later were able to take on their first member of staff (who promptly disappeared with the weekly takings). In 1906 they moved to the current premises on Charing Cross Road, site of the Old Goldbeater's House. (See: Low, David (1973): With All Faults, pp 16-20.) Control of the shop passed to Christina Foyle, daughter of founder William. It was under Christina that the shop stagnated, with little investment and poorly paid staff who could be fired on a whim. She also refused to install any modern conveniences such as electronic tills, calculators or taking orders by phone. The store operated through a payment system that required customers to queue three times (once to collect an invoice for a book, and then again to pay the invoice, then a third to collect the book), simply because sales staff were not allowed to handle cash.Michael Handelzalts, [ Foyled and found again] , Ha'aretz, 30 May 2003] Equally mystifying to customers was a shelving arrangement that categorized books by publisher, rather than by topic or author. A quote of this period is: "Imagine Kafka had gone into the book trade."

Foyles is also known for its literary luncheons which have been held since 1930. Foyles now also holds a large number of evening literary events in the spring and autumn of each year.


After the death of owner Christina Foyle in 1999 and the passing of control to her nephew Christopher, Foyles' shop and practices have been modernised. Christopher Foyle is also the Chairman and CEO of aviation companies Air Foyle & Air Foyle HeavyLift, was Chairman and is now Deputy President of the Air League, was a Trustee of the Foyle Foundation, and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex.David Teather, [,,2204015,00.html Interview: Christopher Foyle, chairman of Foyles bookshop] , The Guardian, 2 November 2007]

Whereas the shop used to sell second-hand and modern books side-by-side on the same shelves, it now primarily sells the modern books found in any other large chain bookshop but in contrast to the well known chain bookshops, has a considerably larger range of titles on every subject, and from November 2007 it started selling secondhand books again as well as remainders and rare books in a special new department on the third floor. In addition it now sells out of print books together with new books in its Art, History and Archaeology Departments. The heavily weathered panelling of Foyles' past has been replaced by a sleek, red-plastic-with-grey-metal-and-beech interior. Most of these changes were instigated between 2003 and 2005.


In 2005 Foyles opened a branch at the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank and in 2006 Foyles was awarded the concession to run the book departments in Selfridges's London Oxford Street and Manchester stores. In February 2008 it opened the only bookshop in the newly refurbished St Pancras railway station which has become the Eurostar London terminal. In 2008 Foyles will operate the bookshop in the enormous new Westfield shopping centre, which will open in the last quarter of 2008 in White City, West London. [Graeme Neill, [ Foyles to open fourth store] , The Bookseller, 2 November 2007]


Foyles has earned the following awardsfact|date=December 2007:

* 2002 Independent Bookseller of the Year;
* 2005 Academic Bookseller of the Year;
* 2006 London Independent Bookseller of the Year
* 2008 Chain Bookselling Company of the Year, 2008 Bookseller of the Year [Book Industry Awards - [ British Nibbies Winners 2008] ]


External links

* [ Foyles Bookshop website]

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