I’m here to tell you that Scottish independent book stores are alive and kicking, and punching well above their weight! That’s not to say times aren’t tough with online bookstores flourishing. For such a small country with just over five million people, Scotland has an astounding literary tradition. It celebrates this heritage in supporting independent bookstores and countless book festivals are run each year. And with such an inspiring landscape, it is a veritable paradise for writers!
On my most recent visit, I was welcomed at many of these wonderful small institutions across the length and breadth of the country. Come with me on this intriguing journey…
Here are some of my favourite book stores whose shelves, I’m pleased to say, hold copies of my novel – ‘Sisters of The Bruce’.
As a self-published author, the challenge is to have your work accepted on its merits rather than dismissed by superficial judgements about self-publishing as a whole. Historically, many Scots both at home and abroad have heralded new approaches due to their ability to think along non-conformist lines. Their high standards and generosity of spirit set the bar high for the rest of the world.
- Blackwells is a prestigious Edinburgh book shop set within the central university district. A large and inviting store with an extraordinary range of books over several levels, it hosts a welcoming café where writers write and readers read whilst enjoying endless cups of coffee. If I lived in Edinburgh, I’d be there every week! I was thrilled to be invited by Blackwells to speak at their new writers’ promotions at the Edinburgh International Book Festival which is ‘the largest public celebration of literature in the world’. Sadly, having been away from home already for such a long time, family commitments meant I was unable to extend my trip. Very nice to be asked, all the same!
- Set in the glorious landscape of the Cairngorms National Park, the Bookmark Book Store sits on the High St of Grantown On Spey. It has been shortlisted for past Book Seller Awards owing to the owner’s wonderful ability to welcome readers into her crammed treasure trove. Marjory Marshall has an open, constructive approach. Ensconced in the corner, coffee cup in hand, midst books towering to the ceiling of the tiny store, I was fascinated by Marjory’s ability to set young readers alight, expanding their reading horizons – not an easy task today in a world obsessing with high-energy computer games.
- Located in the highlands in central Scotland, the Watermill hosts a unique combination of an award-winning bookshop, gallery and fabulous café in a converted watermill in the picturesque town of Aberfeldy. Try their courgette and lime cake … you won’t be disappointed! I quite fancy renting an old stone cottage, nestled by a tree-lined burn, somewhere in this stunning area – to write, to dream. A little slice of heaven!
- Last but definitely not least, I was welcomed on a number of occasions at Masons, Melrose’s elegant book store, in the Borders of Scotland. My book signing exceeded all expectations, helped no doubt by an eye-catching window display. Melrose has a rich literary tradition. Not far away, lies the stately home of Sir Walter Scott. And the surrounding hills and green valleys echo with the beat and rattle of marauding Roman and English armies. Such history! No wonder Scotland holds writers in its sway!
Check out Scotland’s independent book stores and book festivals – designed to inspire readers and writers everywhere!