Ripley & Lambert
Despite being one of the world’s leading cities for film, specialist film bookshops are a rarity in London.
In an Amazon-dominated age, with the independent bookshop increasingly under-threat, there is surprisingly little on offer besides the BFI Shop at BFI Southbank for the bookish film-loving Londoner.
Fortunately, that has changed. Ripley & Lambert, owned by Catherine Staples, first opened its doors on Saturday 20th July 2019 in Dalston Kingsland, becoming London’s only independent film bookshop and café. Less than a mile away from the historic Rio Cinema, Ripley and Lambert (affectionately named after the female characters in Ridley Scott’s Alien) offers bookshop buffs and film aficionados an appealing alternative to the crowds of BFI Southbank. Time Out have called the venue “a trove of movie goodness” and, with doors open again, Catherine and her team are ready to welcome new faces to what Hackney Citizen have hailed as “Café paradise for film fans”.
“When people find us, they really like us”, Catherine explains. “It’s a really nice place to be. People get really excited about coming here and love how curated the book selection is”. With its first anniversary interrupted by lockdown, Ripley & Lambert’s inaugural year came to an anti-climax. “We lost the momentum that we had picked up. The biggest challenge is getting people back in and making them feel safe and comfortable”. Yet, lockdown has had some advantages, with the launch of the online shop aiding sales and luring new customers to visit its Dalston base. “The Booksellers Association have also been amazing throughout lockdown”, Catherine adds. Likewise, Catherine’s team have been equally complimentary of Ripley & Lambert’s support in paying 100% of their wages during furlough.
Catering for both casual Café customers and book browsers, Ripley & Lambert offers visitors a choice of three spaces to enjoy a specially curated selection of books and tasty menu of bagels and treats. The shop’s front room houses the bookshop and café, with the wonderfully retro projector room behind and the irresistibly cinematic basement below. The basement also serves as an events space. London Film School’s Brian Dunnigan has given a talk on screenwriting whilst Empire editor Ian Nathan has presented quizzes on the Alien franchise & Stephen King. The local community have also been catered for, with screenings of kids cartoons and “nerdy needlework” classes all free of charge. “We’re excited about getting events back but want to prioritise customer care and safety first. We started off just serving from the door when we reopened, with loads of books on display in the window. We then opened up for people to come in but didn’t have seating but now have a reduced number of tables and chairs”.
When it came to the shop’s name, Catherine explained the appeal behind the choice. “I wanted something to sound bookish but also reference sci-fi cinema. Also, they are two really different, interesting female characters”. However, Catherine was equally enthusiastic for the shop to appeal to everyone. “I wanted it to be about all film and not tied to a specific genre. We have books on every level of film.
We’re continually expanding our selection and are working on co-ordinating events for women and LGBTQ+ filmmakers and black and ethnic minority filmmakers”.
No longer restricted to a trek across London to the film hub of BFI Southbank, visitors will be delighted with a new option for reading and refreshment in cinema-inspired surroundings. A labour of love to film and reading, Ripley & Lambert is a must for film buffs, café lovers, bookworms and the many of us who are indeed a combination of all three!
Follow Ripley & Lambert on Instagram (@ripleyandlambert), Facebook (ripleyandlambert) and Twitter (@ripandlamb).
542 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AH