Welcome, book lover, to Foyles—the award-winning bookseller known the world over (well, nearly) for its selection, its expertise, and for inspiring readers everywhere with a passion for books.
And, once upon a time, for frustrating said readers in equal measure. But we'll get to that.
Explore any of our seven shops across London, Chelmsford, Birmingham and Bristol and you'll discover a spectacular selection of hot-off-the-press publishing, perennial classics, staff favourites and hidden gems—plus friendly expert booksellers happy to give you recommendations and help you find your new favourite book. We've also a range of gifts and stationery curated to complement our books, an ever-changing selection of books signed by the authors, and instore events with established and up-and-coming speakers.
On top of that we've got our website which—as well as offering hundreds of thousands of books and gifts for home delivery and Click & Collect instore—hosts interviews with authors, blogs and extracts. Our new and improved loyalty scheme, Foyalty, is one of the best reward schemes on the high street and gives £10 balance back for every ten stamps earned, instore and online. Our email newsletter tells you all about the newest books, events, exclusive Foyalty offers and general goings-on. And you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with all the other cool kids.
Well, that all sounds pretty organised. But that wasn’t always the case.
We first earned our bookselling chops in 1903 when the brothers William and Gilbert Foyle, after having failed their civil service exams, started selling off their unwanted textbooks. Enter 115 years of family-owned independent bookselling, turning that first kitchen table venture into a beloved, world-famous bookshop brand and the stuff of legend.
Here’s some of the stories you might have heard: We're the bookshop that telegrammed Hitler asking to buy the books he was burning in the 1930s (he wouldn't sell). When George Bernard Shaw, a vegetarian, spoke on the protection of birds at one of the famed Literary Luncheons, guests were served chicken. And, under the management of the charismatic Christina Foyle (a one-time debt collector in Stalinist Russia), we were notorious for our Byzantine 'chit' system in which customers wanting to purchase a book were given a paper slip and told to queue again to pay. ‘If Kafka had been a bookseller,’ people said, ‘Foyles would have been the result.’
We’d like to think you’d hardly recognise us these days: we've undergone nothing short of a quiet revolution in recent years, culminating in the move of our iconic flagship Charing Cross Road shop to its new location in 2014. Light, spacious, and communal, in many ways it represents everything we hope to be: a home for ideas, for stories to inspire readers of all ages; a space to discover, to meet, to learn, to relax; and a name you can trust, to make recommendations, to promote books and reading in innovative ways, and to help new readers discover the wonder of books.
In 2018, after 115 years of independent bookselling, then-Chairman Christopher Foyle and the Board of Directors sold the company to Waterstones, under the steer of Managing Director James Daunt, with the proviso that the Foyles name must endure. And so begins another chapter in the history of a world-famous bookseller: independent in spirit, with a future ensured, and ready for the next 115 years.