Tag Archives: bookshop

Book lover’s dream holiday: running a bookshop in Scotland

2017-11-08

This is one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever heard of: a bookshop in Scotland lets a book lover run the store for a two week period. Then, the next shop manager moves in and does his or her best in the small bookstore. Two-week time slots for managing the Open Book shop have been almost fully reserved until 2020.

Wigtown, SCotland, Open Book, bookshop
The Open Book shop is located in the village of Wigtown in Scotland. The Scotsman reports how the system works. Shop managers, or guests, book their stay via Airbnb, and pay for the privilege of becoming bookstore managers. The guests can stay in the apartment above the store.

The concept was created by an American Jessica Fox who had dreamt about working at a bookshop in Scotland. She moved to Wigtown to work in another bookstore before acquiring the shop that was to become Open Book.

“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.”

Wigtown, Scotland.
Shop managers do real work in the bookstore: they sell books, set prices for acquired books, organize book readings and other events, and redesign shop windows. Shop managers write a blog that is fascinating to read. For instance, someone has been waiting for two years for her turn in the shop, and now, in the shop, she is busy with customers and books.

A computer with Internet connection lets managers keep up-to-date in the shop, unless they want to go for a bicycle ride to the Scotland countryside.

The concept has been noticed in China and South Korea where companies planning book town concepts have been in contact with Jessica Fox.

How to avoid crowds at Lello (aka Harry Potter) bookstore in Porto, Portugal

2016-11-05

As a travel destination, Portugal has a lot going on at the moment. Sintra, Cascais, Lisbon, Algarve and Porto are world class destinations that attract an increasing number of visitors. One of the lucky Portuguese destinations that gets more visitors than it perhaps ever wished for is a beautiful bookstore in the city of Porto in North Portugal. The author of Harry Potter books, JK Rowling, drew inspiration from it and perhaps also used the bookstore setting as a platform for the Harry Potter world.
Lello bookstore, Porto, Portugal. Photo: Michal HuniewiczPhoto by Michal Huniewicz.

So, it seems that every tourist who arrives in Porto wants to visit the Lello shop in the city center.
Porto, Portugal, Lello bookstore
The result is that the shop is crowded. Once people discovered the store and the word spread, it has been a travel destination. The bookstore eventually became so crowded that the owners had to think of something to allow people to actually shop books and to look around, too.

They invented a scheme that works like this: outside the bookstore is a kiosk (the red kiosk in the photos) where you have to buy an entrance ticket (yes, you pay to enter a bookshop). The kiosk controls the flow of people to the store. Once you buy something, the ticket price is deducted from the total. Fair, and simple system that allows some breathing room for bookstore visitors.

lello bookstore, porto.

Visitors to the Lello bookstore have to get a ticket from the red kiosk first.

As you can see in the photos, the Harry Potter fans’ and curious visitors’ queue can be quite long to the ticket kiosk – before you even get to the bookstore. The photos were taken in September. We can only imagine how long the queue was in August and July.

How to avoid spending a long time in the queue? Arrive early in the morning. Early is a relative term, but if you hit the scene before 11 o’clock, you should be fine.

An important tip for Porto explorers: Beware of the traffic in Porto and everywhere else in Portugal. The way locals drive is very fast, dangerous and unpredictable, and it is against their religion to indicate which way they are going.

Here is where you can find the Lello bookstore:
porto, lello bookstore, map