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.
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.”
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.