IT is a famous feature in Paris’s best-known bookshop. Now Wigtown Book Festival is to pay homage to Shakespeare and Company, the bookshop frequented by Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and F Scott Fitzgerald and which famously has 13 beds for visiting writers and preferred customers.
The festival is to celebrate its 15th year by installing a bed for its two-week duration in the town’s Book Shop - where book lovers will be able to browse novels galore before going to sleep.
It is one of a number of initiatives aimed at complementing the vast programme of author appearances, celebrity talks and debates at the festival, which runs from 27 September to 7 October.
Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend the book festival, which was first held in 1999 just months after Wigtown was named Scotland’s book town. Just a few hundred book-lovers attended that fledgling event.
Other developments planned this year include a new festival radio station, theatre performances, drive-in movie screenings, a night-time bike ride, art installations, and even an al fresco festival swim.
Festival director Adrian Turpin said he hoped the expanded programme would help persuade potential visitors to stay in the Galloway area for the entire duration of the festival. The event, which already generates around £750,000 for the local economy, has attracted ScottishPower has a headline sponsor this year.
The 2013 programme numbers Joanna Lumley, Chris Brookmyre, William McIlvanney, James Robertson, Blythe Duff and Anne Applebaum among its headliners.
Broadcasters Peter Snow, Jeremy Bowen, Sally Magnusson and Lesley Riddoch are also expected to be major draws.
There will be special themes on the run-up to Scotland’s independence referendum and Britain’s natural landscapes, the latter of which is part of the nationwide Year of Natural Scotland programme.
A nominal fee will be charged to take advantage of the “Book-a-Bedtime” initiative at what is said to be the biggest second-hand bookshop anywhere in Scotland.
Mr Turpin said: “The shop, which is a fantastic old 18th century building, filled with around 65,000 books and antique furniture, will literally be carving out a space among its shelves for a bed for the duration of the festival.
“Just one person a night will be able to sleep there and they will have the place to themselves after the shop closes for the night, but they’ll obviously have to be up pretty early in the morning.”
Around 180 events are being held in and around Wigtown during the festival, tickets for which are on sale now.
Mr Turpin added: “Wigtown proves that a book festival can be intimate, accessible to everyone and fun, without sacrificing a commitment to excellent writing new and old.
“With a stronger midweek programme and more evening activities, we believe there’s more incentive than ever for visitors to come and stay for the duration.”