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Dec 22, 2014

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Angela Hill, IDEA Books

The London-based online retailer IDEA Books has more than 90K followers on Instagram. Their huge following is due to co-owners Angela Hill and David Owens, who post a constant stream of photos showcasing the shop’s offerings of rare and vintage photography books and magazines focused on anything from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artwork and vintage Versace to Brigitte Bardot portraits and Donald Judd architecture. Prices are never listed, and high-profile artists, designers, and stylists searching for their next source of inspiration snap up IDEA’s stock in a matter of minutes. With outposts at the Dover Street Market locales in London and New York City, along with a rising social media presence, IDEA Books’ success reaches far beyond their loyal creative industry following. We spoke with Hill about her most recent finds, the perfect books for hair-spiration and more.

How did IDEA Books start, and what were you doing before?

I was a photographer living in London and I always bought lots of books from a very young age. Sarah Andelman, founder and creative director of Colette, came to my flat and asked if I could sell her some rare books for her shop in Paris.

What do you always look for when you're selecting what books to sell?

Something that is immediately appealing. It takes you away from your surroundings for a while and into another world.

Social media plays an important role in your business, especially Instagram. Do you have any tips for businesses that want to build an audience in the digital space?

A fast turnover of amazing images always works!

You have coveted selection of "Superbooks." What usually makes the cut?

We instinctively know as we buy something. We usually get so excited about it and can’t wait to show everyone, and that feeling always turns out to be right. That’s a Superbook!

What books or magazines would you recommend for the hair-obsessed reader?

The perfect items are Coiffures, an amazing series of French books that came out yearly. They’re a kind of annual “Best Styles and Cuts From That Year” publication. They are highly sought after by our customers, especially, of course, the hairdressers working on photo shoots, advertising campaigns and fashion shows.

What type of books or magazines would you recommend for a hair salon?

Great inspirational books that do not necessarily focus on hair. For example, the Fiorucci book from the ’80s has great ideas, or a really beautiful Deborah Turbeville book with amazing romantic dreamy looks. I would also recommend a complete contrast of styles and attitudes, maybe including the wonderful O Rio by Bruce Weber.

What are some recent finds that you're loving right now?

I love interiors books. There’s a French book called Jansen with stunning images of interiors.

What books or magazines are you still on the hunt for?

Always an Allen Jones book called Waitress.

Is there a book or magazine that you sold but wish you could've kept for yourself?

Many! There were some great Talking Heads fanzines once. But I know where they are now!

Your shop inside Dover Street Market New York was your first foray into the American market, and you also have a shop at the Dover Street Market London flagship. Is there a difference between the two locations?

In London we literally put a 1970s Snoopy book next to a £3,000 art book. Really anything goes! Often two items like that would sell to the same person in Dover Street.

In New York, we tend to put more “collections” of books together. For example, our first display there was a collection of archived Comme des Garçons materials, including very rare early catalogs, books and advertisting items, as well as various publications that published special Comme des Garçons issues like Visionaire, Cream and Another Mag.

If you could set up an IDEA Books shop anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Los Angeles or Paris.

What's inspiring you right now?

Interiors really and always Japan.

Does IDEA Books have anything coming up in the New Year?

New displays in Dover Street Market New York and London, plus we’re publishing a book in January.
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