Sunday, September 11, 2005

Abebooks: Wigtown Book Festival

Now, I'd heard of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which went into the selling of secondhand books in a big way a few years back.

But this is the first I've heard of Wigtown, Scotland - in any capacity, as far as I know. Where have I been?

From the website:
If any place in the world deserved the label of 'Book Town', then it is Wigtown – a small community of no more than 1,000 people in southwest Scotland. It is home to an incredible 19 bookstores and another five booksellers, and each year it celebrates its literary prowess with a festival attracting thousands.

The seventh annual Scottish Book Town Literary Festival takes place from September 23 until October 2. It is billed as a celebration of the written word through books, art, film and theatre.

Wigtown became a 'Book Town' following a search across Scotland for a suitable town in need of regeneration and willing to model itself on Hay-on-Wye – the small Welsh town that dedicated itself to books in order to breathe life into its failing economy.

In the mid-1990s, Wigtown's agricultural-based economy had declined, young people were leaving the town in droves and, in the words of one current bookseller, "Wigtown was derelict."

John Robertson manages the Book Town Company which promotes Wigtown to the world. "The theory was that the success of Hay-on-Wye could be replicated," he said. "It has been a massive gamble for every bookseller that decided to come here. Some booksellers originally came as a lifestyle choice. Now we are getting younger booksellers. Every single bookseller is different – that's what makes the place so interesting."

Robertson estimates that the town – 90 miles from the nearest major highway – attracts over 50,000 visitors each year. Not bad for a town of 970 people...
Full article

Festival webpage

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