Scotland's 'holiday bookshop' due to be replicated in China

A 'holiday bookshop' in a Scottish town which gives holidaymakers the chance to run the shop for a two week stint is booked solid until 2020 and has sparked plans for a copycat version in China.

Wigtown has had official 'book town' status since 1998.
Wigtown has had official 'book town' status since 1998.

The Open Book in Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway, was launched by American Jessica Fox two years ago and is marketed through AirBnB.

Now a Chinese company has contacted her in a bid to launch its own version in Asia.

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Paying guests have the chance to live in a flat above the shop and run the bookshop themselves for two week stints, which has proved popular with guests around the world.

Ms Fox was working as a storyteller for space agency NASA in California nine years ago when she had a dream “to work in a Scottish bookshop by the sea”.

She subsequently bought the Open Book - then The Bookshop owned by owned by Shaun Bythell - and later began to rent it out to those looking for a working holiday for £36 a night.

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.”

A laptop and WiFi are provided for guests, as well as bicycles for those looking to explore the local countryside while the shop is quiet.

Ms Fox is to speak at InnovateLiterature, part of the Wigtown Book Festival, now Scotland’s second-biggest literary event, to tell the story of her shop. The festival was first held in Wigtown – which has a population of less than 1,000 – in 1999, the year after it was officially ­recognised as a book town, and following a campaign to secure the designation, which was largely based on the model of Hay-on-Wye, in Wales.