5 bookshops I love in Edinburgh
A few weeks ago Edinburgh City of Literature launched a brand new Edinburgh Bookshops iPhone app and web-based Bookshop Trail, highlighting the fact that bookshops are very much alive and well in this part of the world (the trail features 53 bookshops!). Here Scottish Book Trust’s most enthusiastic bookshop devotee Heather Collins offers five of her favourites.
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I should probably start by fessing up that I used to work here. I’m really not biased though; I loved Blackwell before they hired me. As it’s the bookshop that serves the university the diversity of their range is fantastic but academic subjects aside, you’ll struggle to find a better general fiction or children’s department. On every second Monday of the month they run a children’s book group, led by their fabulously knowledgeable children’s department staff. In recent years the group has participated in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. If your child’s school doesn’t do this themselves then getting involved through Blackwell is a great idea!
Looking Glass Books is relatively new to the Edinburgh book scene and what a gem! The first time I visited I was struck by the quality of their fiction selection. It was like they had read my to-read list. Whilst their stock is smaller than bigger shops it’s obviously very carefully chosen; there was something else I wanted to buy at every turn. They’re particularly good at social media and I have had a book that I’ve tweeted about thrust into my hand as soon as I’ve walked in the shop – now that’s the sort of friendly service you can’t get anywhere other than a brilliant indie. YA author Cat Clarke is currently their Writer in Residence. Keep an eye out on Twitter for when you can drop in to chat with Cat about all things writerly and bookish!
Although it’s been around for a few years now I only started shopping here this year when I moved back to the south side of town. Their range of picture books is a particular favourite, I can often be found in there on a Saturday morning, browsing away. Their customer service is outstanding too; just this weekend I had a staff member offering to help me source a book from another shop in the Borders, because they didn’t have a copy and it’s reprint pending. You just don’t get a better sales assistant than a bookseller and this shop clearly has some of the best!
You may not consider galleries when wondering where to buy a nice book, but if you’re a picture book lover like me I recommend you start there. The Fruitmarket Gallery shop often has picture books I’ve not seen elsewhere, more obscure, European titles. When you want something a bit special it’s a great place to look. One of my favourite things about the bookshop is their BookMarket programme of fairs that run regularly throughout the year. You can go along to meet book makers, artists, designers and buy their wares. It’s a great way of keeping in touch with the local arts scene and always good for finding unique presents, or treats for yourself.
If you’re a book lover who also appreciates beautiful things then you need to pay a visit to The Golden Hare. The books, set face out on white shelves, are like treats in a sweet shop. You will want them all. It’s a great shop to find something different and design-led. And they run a book group on the last Monday of every month if you like to discuss your books in more inspiring surroundings than someone’s living room.
Inspired by Heather's picks? Add a description of your favourite Edinburgh bookshop in the comments below!