Aberfeldy bookstore named best in Britain

A reading group at the Watermill bookshop in Aberfeldy
A reading group at the Watermill bookshop in Aberfeldy
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A shop and cafe in a Perthshire village has been named one of the “World’s Greatest Bookstores” by the New Yorker magazine.

The Watermill in Aberfeldy has been included on the list alongside bookshops in some of the world’s largest cities, and is the only entry from Scotland.

The shop is owned by Kevin and Jayne Ramage, who admitted they were stunned and delighted when they found out they had been included in the top 75 stores worldwide.

In the feature, Monty Python star Michael Palin paid tribute to the Watermill and called it one of the best reasons for lovers of literature to visit Scotland.

Mr Ramage said: “Imagine our surprise when a print of a painting of The Watermill arrived from the USA.

“A note from New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein explained that we were one of just 75 bookshops worldwide and the only one in Scotland.”

Kevin, who opened the store in 2005 after converting a derelict mill building, said: “This wonderful surprise is a tribute to the outstanding support we have received from our customers. Since we opened we have seen off the recession, the rise of tax-dodging online booksellers and e-books.

“Every year the media predicts the death of bricks-and-mortar bookshop, but this October we have celebrated our strongest sales ever.”

Artist Bob Eckstein explained that the project had started as a modest tribute to his favourite bookstores in New York but had grown into a global project because of the reader response.

He said: “It was a little more than two years ago that I walked around New York, drawing pictures of the city’s endangered landmark bookstores.

“The modest feature, published on the New Yorker website, struck a nerve with book lovers and set in motion a project to draw a full collection of bookstores around the world.

“I ultimately chose 75 stores to feature in “Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores.”

The feature - which has been extended to a book of prints - quotes celebrities and authors who have special memories relating to each of the shops.

When asked for his most memorable bookstore moment, Monty Python’s Michael Palin said it was the time he opened the Watermill bookshop in Scotland.

“The most perfect conjunction,” he said. “The owner of my favourite little bookshop in Kentish Town, London, decamps to the most beautiful countryside in Scotland and decides to turn an old mill into a bookstore.

“I’m asked to open it and witness Kevin, the owner, flinging himself on the waterwheel to get started. I expect it to be a magnificent failure, but it’s been a magnificent success. Walter Scott is no longer the only reason for book lovers to go to Scotland.”

The Watermill, which also has a small art gallery and attached homeware section, was named the UK Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2009.