Books iconica izettle vari

Retail: Inspirational

Passion into profession: Books Iconica

By Sheila Ho on January 11, 20174 minutes read

A big leap can be spurred by a niche idea. Vari McGeachy went from working in a book shop to starting a Penguin book haven.

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Welcome to Books Iconica – a small store specialising in Penguin publications. Too niche? Not at all!

“I happened to run into a little book store selling only Moomin books. Only Moomin! It made me realize that you can actually specialise in something that you love...”

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Do you know Moomin? The eccentric and oddly-shaped characters were created by Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson.

Vari McGeachy went to Helsinki some years ago when she came across a Moomin shop – selling only Moomin books and merchandise. And what did Vari love? Classic books - and she’d always been particularly fond of Penguin books.

At that time, Vari was working in a general book store.

My old job was very comfortable but I wasn’t really going anywhere.

“It was very comfortable but I wasn’t really going anywhere”, says Vari. And seeing the dedicated Moomin shop made her realise you could focus on what you love, and turn it into a business.

So, despite identifying as “risk-averse”, Vari made the big decision to resign, and invest all her money in a new venture. All along, she had a very clear idea of what she wanted.

The fruits of her efforts is an independent book shop called Books Iconica. It specialises in classic literature from the 19th and 20th centuries, and in particular Penguin publications.

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Location is key – Vari's store is located in Camden market, ensuring a solid stream of customers. It also means that Vari can walk to the store everyday – in less than 20 minutes.

A business turned out to be an organic thing – at one point it started creating energy.

“Running a business is quite a daunting task, I didn’t really know what I was doing”, says Vari about the first few months of running her own store. Being on her own, with no employees, was quite “nerve-wracking”, but she followed her intuition, and asked her former employer for advice when she found herself in new and unknown situations.

“A business turned out to have an organic element – it did take a lot of energy but on reaching a tipping point it started creating energy. It was when I started covering my costs I understood that it was actually working…”

3 great reads in the winter darkness:

  • “The Alexandria Quartet” by Lawrence Durrell.

  •  “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov.

  • “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers 

When I started covering my costs I understood that it was actually working.

Vari continues: “If you can get past the early stage when you feel run down and worn down… You have to experience it!”

Books Iconica is located in Camden Market and has become a popular gift shop, not only with tourists, but a growing number of loyal locals. Vari McGeachy lives 30 minutes away by foot, and enjoys the peaceful walk to work every day. This book lover, who grew up in Sussex, has a strikingly serene charisma.

“I get a lot of compliments from customers saying the store is beautiful – and a huge proportion of satisfaction comes from that”, she admits before welcoming yet another customer.


Vari McGeachy has used iZettle for payments since day one. We stopped by and helped her adding some new reads into the Point-of-Sale-system.

“If you can get past the early stage when you feel run down and worn down… You have to experience it!”, says Vari McGeachy about the first months of running her own business.

Sheila ho Sheila Ho Senior Production Manager at iZettle

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