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bookshop

Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter

October 19th, 2017 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter
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I must admit that when we were first told that interacting on Twitter was essential to the development of our professional life in the publishing industry, there was a part of me that considered pursuing an immediate career change. I was never the one to thrive on social media, even my Facebook account felt like too much at times. However, seeing as I didn’t really have much choice (one of our assignments on the course involves live tweeting), I decided to give it a go. A couple of days later I found myself joining a spontaneous bookshop crawl organized by complete strangers…and all because of Twitter.

It was through following the Twitter account of Edinburgh’s City of Literature that I found out about 7 October being Bookshop Day. Then, using the traditional Google search I tried to look for related events in Edinburgh. Imagine my disappointment when I found none. Reluctantly, I turned towards Twitter. Imagine my surprise when in seconds I had a potential outing organized. All it took was one search and two hashtags.

As it turned out, fellow publishers-to-be from Edinburgh Napier University were going to celebrate Bookshop Day in the best possible way, that is with a Bookshop Crawl. A brilliant concept that transforms the infamous British tradition of pub crawls into a nerdy day of rummaging through piles of books. Lea, my friend from the Stirling course, and I both loved the idea – it was an opportunity not only to indulge our predilection for buying new books, but also a great way to explore Edinburgh for the first time.

To begin with, we met the Napier students at the Edinburgh Bookshop. Definitely a good starting point: we arrived just in time to see the bookshop owner Marie put on a bright orange “Books are my Bag” T-shirt (BAMB is a nationwide campaign promoting reading and bookshops). She was clearly responsible for giving the whole bookshop a very friendly air – running to and fro, attending to individual customers with lots of enthusiasm and a great sense of humour. A quick browse through the shelves revealed that the bookshop had a very good selection of intriguing and thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction. The owners have put it this way: “If ‘Radio 4’ was a bookshop, it would be like this…”

The next bookshop we visited – Edinburgh Books in West Port – despite a close name resemblance, had a very different aura to it. It is one of the city’s most recognizable second-hand and antiquarian bookshops. The first thing you notice inside is an imposing head of a water buffalo hanging on the wall, a very characteristic hallmark. There is an incredible range of books on offer, but that’s not all: downstairs in the basement you can even purchase sheet music.

 

Clarence the water buffalo

West Port is also home to another one of Edinburgh’s second-hand bookshops that we visited as part of the bookshop crawl – Armchair Books. The abundance of books offered by Armchair was astonishing. Volumes were stacked to the ceiling and shelves squeezed into every possible nook. Also, the place was surprisingly busy, swarming with book lovers, who could not resist spending their Saturday among piles of antiquarian jewels.

 

The joy of finding old-time favoutites

 

 

Antiquarian jewels on display at Armchair Books

 

From Armchair Books we bookshop crawled to Transreal, a haven for science-fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Not being one myself, I decided to skip it and conclude the day in Blackwell’s bookshop. As an aspiring academic publisher I was astonished by the sheer size of the scholarly section. An enormous part of the shop was reserved for serious studies ranging from philosophy to marine biology.

All in all, the day was a great success. The event was certainly low-key, but that’s what made it special – from the bottomless sea of meaningless Twitter interactions we managed to fish out something sincere and worthwhile. At the end of the day, sitting on the steps of the Scott Monument – apparently the largest monument to a writer in the world – I thought to myself: Edinburgh really is a city of literature.