The bookshop at Aye Write is an extension of Waterstones Sauciehall Street branch (now there’s a shop I can lose myself in for days ….). For the length of the festival it is housed in a small corner room just off the main corridor.
The big table in the centre, whilst packed with treats galore, takes most of the space, and so it is important to schedule browsing visits for a time when everyone else is at an event. You certainly don’t want to be there when the crowds have descended to buy copies for signing – particularly when authors are squashed into the right hand corner for signing.
It really is the most curious set-up. It wasn’t always thus. Way back in the mists of Ayewrite history, I remember, the bookshop was housed in a far more spacious place. To the right of the main hall I think – the room that this year was used for storing chairs. Perhaps a council-run festival doesn’t wish to appear too mercenary?
Shelf organisation too is somewhat idiosyncratic. The books are organised by the event date – at least that way, if you know who you’re coming to see, you can easily find their book. It’s taken a while but this filing system has grown on me. I don’t usually get a printed copy of the program until I arrive for my first event and no matter, how many times I study the online catalogue, I always miss something interesting. One year I almost missed Anthea Bell. It wasn’t until I saw a batch of her translations on the shelf, and went to investigate the program that I discovered one of the highlights of the last 8 years at Aye Write! This year’s discovery was former Edinburgh Makar, Stewart Conn.
Normally my bank manager is quite relaxed about my visiting the Aye Write Popup Shop. This year’s programme, however, was far more comprehensive that it has been to date. There were obviously some generous sponsors around this year … and my bank manager needs to schedule a meeting with them because the popup shop has now been added to Lizzy’s solvency risk register.
The thing is Aye Write now has its own generously sized bookbag and the rule is, have bookbag, must fill! Aye? Right!
Ambience: Pleasant when less than half-a-dozen others in the shop. Otherwise claustrophobic. 5/10
Distance from Home: Short-range 22.9 miles (Actually the nearest book shop to home!) But only there 10 days a year. 7/10
Literary Deliciousness: An interesting selection. Strong on Scottish literature. Almost no translated material but good for making discoveries. 7/10
Packaging: Curiously the Aye Write bookbag was not for sale in the shop but at the box office. Packaging was a Waterstones plastic bag bearing the bon mot Even the most ardent reader will never reach the end of a good bookshop. 6/10
Will I return? Of course though not for another 12 months. 7/10
Average score: 6.4