Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town – The Bookboy Reports

Wigtown is world renowned as Scotland’s National Book Town. You hear those words and frankly, if you love books as much as we all do, you feel like you might have died and gone to heaven, or you need to book a ticket and run there just as fast as you can. A while back The Bookboy was lucky enough to be taken up that way with his grandparents, and so went undercover to discover if this was a book lovers haven, or a town cashing in on book lovers everywhere, here is his report…

During the recent holidays, I went up to Scotland, and stayed in the county of Wigtownshire, which is home to Scotland’s national town of books, Wigtown. Throughout the course of the week, I had several opportunities to check out Wigtown, and take full advantage of the spending money I had to invest in a possible bulging carrier bag full of books.

We visited most of the bookshops in Wigtown, and found that quite a lot of them dealt in specialist books, but that a few were really good. Also, most of the staff in the bookshops were working on computers when we entered and did not even look up, which I thought was rather hostile. Anyway, I’ll go on to describe each bookshop we visited individually. First port of call was ‘The Book Corner’…

This bookshop was clearly a specialist bookshop, and you could tell just by walking through the door. It did have a quite big children’s section for a specialist bookshop, which was an added bonus. I managed to pick up a copy of Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson and Snake Dance by Anthony Horowitz, although they were £3.50 each, which was, I think, a bit of a rip off considering this was a second hand store!

The Old Bank Bookshop, which, sadly, I don’t have a picture of, was clearly another specialist bookshop, which mainly dealt in wartime diaries and historical volumes. However, I did manage to pick up a copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, with a classic cover, of which Simon is very envious! (Yes, I blinking am!)

Reading Lasses was, as it said on the leaflet, a shop that specialises in books about and by women. It also said that it was the only specialist women’s bookshop in the UK, but to be honest it wasn’t up to much, and I didn’t buy anything!

Byre Books, I’m afraid, also went down with a resounding no. The stock was out of date, even for a second hand book shop, and worse the woman there only answered our questions briefly, before her head swivelled back to her computer screen!

This bookshop, called ‘The Bookshop’ is the largest in Scotland, and boasts nine rooms, but the children’s section was, once again, well past it’s sell by date! Do bookshop owners not think children read books anymore I wondered?

The Creaking Shelves Bookshop (which is Simon’s favourite name for a bookshop yet) was well organised, had new, just published, and in some cases, children’s books, but they were still charging full price for them, so I didn’t indulge!

The Box of Frogs was by far the best for me, as it was a children’s specialist bookshop, and I picked up a couple of Alex Rider’s, including a signed copy of Eagle Strike for £2.50, Bargain Alert! I also picked up three old Doctor Who books for my friend, and as an added bonus the staff were lovely! In fact I was surprised overall just how unfriendly the staff were in a lot of these shops, you want friendly staff who want to help once you have meandered through all the shelves.

Altogether, I wasn’t too impressed with Wigtown, but if you happen to be in the area, and you love books its worth a visit. Maybe I just had too high expectations, but wouldn’t we all? Plus, I did come back with a book or two, or eleven. I just bought them from the friendlier stores. These books were…

  • The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz
  • Loser by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nightime by Mark Haddon
  • Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
  • The Diary of a Doctor Who addict by Paul Magrs
  • The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown

Has anyone else been to Wigtown? What did you think of it? Did we just catch it on an off week?

Until next time, BookBoy out!

14 Comments

Filed under Book Spree, Book Thoughts, Bookboy Reads

14 responses to “Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town – The Bookboy Reports

  1. Thumbs up for Winterson! 🙂

  2. Goodness Bookboy what a time you had. And what a great report! Do please come back to the blog soon — or how about starting one of your own? You write so well and I’m sure lots of people would read it. You could just call it Bookboy Reads. Mind you your uncle might be jealous if you got really successful :).

  3. gaskella

    Ace report Bookboy! Shame about the unfriendly shops – a smile on entering goes a long way. A good haul of books too. I haven’t read any Anthony Horowitz (yet), but read somewhere he’s written a new Sherlock Holmes mystery (one for your uncle no doubt). Well done 🙂

  4. Brilliant report from the bookboy, want to visit for myself now…

  5. novelinsights

    Love the report – especially the frankness (‘the only specialist women’s bookshop in the UK… it wasn’t up to much.’)

    Sounds like a good place to venture to if you’re in the area but might stick to Charing Cross road while I’m in London 🙂

  6. I went in April. I was helped out a lot because I think that winter was just getting over and my accent made everyone curious. Plus, being the darkest person over there made me exotic.

    It costs a lot to transport things there; maybe that’s why the books are more expensive. (Unless it was local, the food was expensive also).

    I was expecting newer books. I did all my new book shopping in London.

  7. I meant to say April 2007

  8. lubylou12

    I haven’t been there Simon, shamefully I hadn’t heard about the place until your post, ops!

    I liked the selection of books you picked up though, read The Curious Incident in the Night Time and really enjoyed it, have you read anything by Mark Haddon before?

  9. Excellent haul and post, Bookboy. I especially liked the way you posted photos of each shop and your thoughts on them!

  10. What a fabulous report from Bookboy! I loved reading this – and thanks for being so honest about the shops themselves; I tend to gush over every book shop I enter just because, well….there are books in it!

  11. dorothy savidge

    Good writing, Book Boy. Pleased you are still as keen as ever. Interested to know what you thought of the Mark Haddon. Are you still reading Dumas, or have you got beyond that, Did you finish The Count of Monte Christo? from Granny Savidge.

  12. ” The Bookshop is the largest in Scotland, and boasts nine rooms, but the children’s section was, once again, well past it’s sell by date! Do bookshop owners not think children read books anymore I wondered?”
    But doesn’t this shop specialise in second hand books?
    If I wanted something up to date or a recent release I’m not sure I’d shop in a second hand book shop. I’d go to Waterstones or get on the internet….I never realised that second hand books could go past their sell by date!

    • I don’t think he meant the books and I think that’s clear in the piece. Its about the state of the room I think.

      It was a young readers opinion and I don’t think anyone should be taking an enthusiastic young book lover, as they are so rare, to task over that!

      • I dont feel I was taking him to task. But I had assumed he meant ‘out of date’ books, rather than the state of the room. I must admit I had no idea that Book boy was so young, mostly due to the high quality of his review of the town’s bookshops.

        Also I take your point about young readers being sadly thin on the ground now – reading was all I did when i was a kid, and TV (thankfully) consisted of 3 channels that were controlled by parents mostly. I feel sad that so many children seem to be missing out on one of life’s true pleasures. I think the saddest thing that came across in the review was that so many of the town’s book shop staff treated such a young customer so badly.

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