London’s Floating Bookstore

From literature on the lake to reading on the river, this floating bookshop has everything a book lover could want – introducing London’s bookbarge, Word on the Water.

The History of Word on the Water

Word on the Water first opened in 2011 and regularly changed its location along Regent’s Canal in London. Thanks to canal rules at the time, the floating bookstore had to move every two weeks.

A photo of the book entrance of the Word on the Water boat bookshop.
Photo Credit: Word on the Water

Its unique selling point was that it was a bookshop inside of a 100-year-old Dutch barge - Dianti. However, having to regularly move wasn’t the best for customer satisfaction, so in 2014 the owners applied for a permanent mooring. As of 2015, a permanent mooring was granted in the King’s Cross area.

The idea for a bookbarge came about when two of the founders moored their houseboats near the Dianti and offered to buy it. The owner of the barge then became a business partner, and Word on the Water was born!

In the early days, the floating bookbarge almost sank after a faulty valve flooded the boat. Thankfully, it was saved and repaired, now serving you as the beautiful bookstore you can see today.

Today and Why you must visit it

Today, Word on the Water can be found permanently moored on Regent’s Canal at Granary Square, King’s Cross. In 2022, the barge was refurbished and expanded to add more space.

It’s become known as one of the best bookshops in the world and a must-visit for any bibliophile. But as well as being home to a beautiful collection of books, Word on the Water also regularly hosts live music and poetry events.

Its permanent location near Coal Drop’s Yard and the extensively redeveloped King’s Cross area has cemented it as a quirky, must-visit location for Londoners and tourists alike, with an abundance of things to do in the area.

The unique bookstore has seen a rise in popularity thanks to social media, with TikTok videos showing the barge as one of the quirkiest bookshops in the UK. Its permanent location has now allowed for repeat visits from both locals and tourists.

Book in Every Corner

Every possible corner of the barge has been utilised so you’ll find a display of books packed into every nook and cranny. While the initial array of books on offer on the outside of the barge is what will capture your attention as you wander down the canal, it’s the cosy interior that will make you want to stay.

A photo shows a pile of books available at the Word on the Water boat bookshop.
Photo Credit: London Living

Decorated with curious knick-knacks, comfy chairs, and a warming stove, Word on the Water wants you to stay for a while and lose yourself in a world of beautiful books. And what a selection of books they have on offer too, from the Timeless Classic Editions of books that changed the world of women’s literature to children’s stories and hard-to-find second-hand wonders.

Don’t be surprised if you have a furry visitor joining you either, Word on the Water has regularly shared photos on social media of cats and dogs enjoying their beautiful barge too.

A Venue with a Difference

But it’s not just books that this floating bookshop is known for. Word on the Water has become one of the best venues in the area for hosting inspiring talks on everything from art to history and feminism to politics.

A photo of performers performing at the Word on the Water stage.
Photo Credit: Word on the Water

If it’s something a little more light-hearted that you’re after, then the barge’s roof is regularly used as a stage for open-mic nights and even the occasional poetry slam! And what a beautiful venue it is, too.

By night, you can find the barge adorned with fairy lights, and the bright lights of King’s Cross twinkle in the background. Word on the Water regularly shares their events on their social media pages, so you can keep up to date with what is happening.

Plan Your Visit

Visiting Word on the Water couldn’t be easier. The book barge is located just a 5-minute walk from London’s King’s Cross train station and underground. The barge can be found just past the Lighterman restaurant on the Regent's Canal towpath at Granary Square. For an exact location, follow this address: Regent's Canal Towpath, London, N1C 4LW.

Word on the Water- The London's Canal Boat Bookshop on Google Maps

Word on the Water is open every day from midday to 7 p.m. except on Christmas Day, meaning you can get your book fix on this quirky barge all year round. To find out about events held on the barge, be sure to follow along on Facebook.

In the area, you will find many other unique stores that fit with the arty vibe of Word on the Water. Hato Store is a Japanese-inspired lifestyle store that has a range of books alongside other curated collections designed to make shoppers think differently. Honest Jons is a record store specialising in hard-to-find records, books, and specialist magazines.

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