Russian billionaire leads a London bookshop revolution

Waterstones owner turns a page in its history and opens a UK store devoted to his native language

It is a literary innovation that will delight London's influx of Russians – and intrigue the intelligence services. Waterstones will open a Russian-language "bookshop" within its flagship Piccadilly store next month.

Russian-speaking assistants will be recruited for the shop, which is the personal passion of Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire whose A&NN Group bought the high-street bookseller last year in a £53m deal.

Mr Mamut, who says he enjoys reading high-quality literature in Russian and English, has named the new store "Slova", Russian for "words". It will be housed on the ground floor mezzanine level of the Piccadilly branch and contain almost 5,000 titles.

Slova is expected to become a meeting point for the more literary-minded Russians in the capital. As well as stocking the classics of Russian literature – Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov – it will showcase commercial writers such as Boris Akunin and Polina Dashkova, Russia's most successful crime author, who has sold 40 million books. The move is the next stage in Mr Mamut's plan to revitalise Waterstones under James Daunt, its new managing director, by serving local communities. Mr Daunt told The Bookseller magazine: "For Russophiles and the large, vibrant Russian community in London, we aim to make Slova an irresistible literary and cultural destination. One won't be surprised at the source of the idea, given Waterstones' ownership."

Mr Mamut, an oligarch with close links to the Kremlin, holds a stake in the Russian publisher Azbooka-Atticus, whose titles Waterstones will stock in Slova. Slova will also work with Academia Rossica, the Russian culture and arts foundation based in London, arranging author events, book launches and other activities.

Despite the challenge from Amazon and digital reading devices such as the Kindle, Mr Mamut sees the UK publishing industry, which generated £4bn last year, as a long-term investment. He described Waterstones as "the last significant player in the UK" and claimed the bookseller's continued existence was "important for UK society".

However, as a convenient West End venue for Russian diplomats, business figures and students to congregate, Slova could become a useful listening post for MI5. A casual encounter between browsers of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita might well be a cover for exchanges of non-fictional information.

Waterstones promises that Slova will stock the best titles Russia can offer, with books selected for export by Boris Kupriyanov, the owner of Moscow's Falanster and Tciolkovskiy bookshops.

The announcement by Waterstones prompted speculation that Vladimir Putin may choose the shop as the venue for a cultural summit with David Cameron when he next makes an official visit to London should he win the Russian presidential election in March.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935