The Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland Image by Airbnb
The Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland Image by Airbnb

World’s only ‘holiday bookshop’ is fully booked till 2020

A Scottish ‘holiday bookshop’ – the only one of its kind in the world – is booked solid every day until the year 2020.

The Open Book in Wigtown – which people pay to run for a fortnight while living in the flat above the shop – has proved such a ‘bestseller’ that a Chinese company has contacted creator Jessica Fox with the aim of opening its own version in Asia.

Jessica will recount the story of her success at InnovateLiterature, which has been organised by the Business Events team at VisitScotland as part of its INNOVATETHENATION talk series.

INNOVATETHENATION brings together experts, influencers and the next generation of pioneers and innovators in a series of engaging talks throughout the country.

Taking place in Wigtown during the town’s Book Festival, InnovateLiterature will also hear from Laura Jones, co-founder of alternative publisher 404 Ink, Amina Shah, Director of Programme at the Scottish Book Trust, and Jenni Steele, Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland.

Following on from previous talks such as InnovateFilm and InnovateEducation, InnovateLiterature will provide a networking opportunity for industry leaders and the business events sector, while also celebrating Scotland’s creative vibrancy.

Jessica’s story is worthy of a novel. Nine years ago, while working as a storyteller for space agency NASA in California, she had a dream “to work in a Scottish bookshop by the sea”.

A quick internet search threw up The Bookshop in Wigtown – owned by Shaun Bythell – and, within a few months, Jessica had left Pasadena to start a new life in Dumfries and Galloway.

She said: “It sounds like a romantic comedy, but I kept dreaming of working in a bookshop by the sea. I could see it as clear as day – right down to the rain outside.

“Wigtown is an amazing, unique place. It has a population of only 900 but it has 16 bookshops and they welcome people from around the world with open arms. I thought, ‘I’m sure I’m not the only crazy American out there who’d love to run a bookshop’ and that’s how The Open Book was born. People book through Airbnb and we’ve been overwhelmed by its success. I’m looking forward to sharing my story at InnovateLiterature.”

Fiona MacKinnon, Business Events Manager at VisitScotland and chair of the panel discussion, said: “InnovateLiterature is a chance for the industry to hear compelling stories and to engage with literature in Scotland. We are delighted to have an outstanding line-up of speakers, each of whom has been inspired to work in this industry in unique and innovative ways.

“InnovateLiterature provides the opportunity to engage with ambassadors from the Scottish literary industry to work together in attracting business events to come to Scotland. When business events in the field of literature are held here, we welcome international delegates from far and wide, but also shine a light on the incredible work being done collaboratively with writers, publishers, Creative Scotland, the Scottish Book Trust, and the other literary bodies in Scotland.

“Such events offer opportunities for inward investment and strengthen our position as a centre of excellence on the global stage. We want to ensure that Scotland remains prominent on an international level in the field of literature, further benefitting the industry for years to come.”