The Future of Bookselling in Edinburgh

October 16th witnessed a special event at the Centre for the History of the Book: a round table discussion including representatives from three different Edinburgh bookshops.

Chaired by Katherine Inglis, Chancellor’s Fellow, the initial participant to be introduced was Blackwell’s, the city’s biggest (academic) bookseller. Ann Landmann, the company’s Events Manager, kindly started off by introducing ‘her’ bookshop, highlighting the store’s 150 year history, during which it also served as the original premises of James Thin’s.

Marie Moser owns the smaller and independent Edinburgh Bookshop, which focuses on an “unusual, intelligent and topical selections of titles”. Being situated outside the city centre, this bookshop has succeeded in becoming an active part of the local community, for which it has been recognised with several awards.

Finally, Derek Walker from McNaughtan’s Bookshop and Gallery was introduced. Quite unlike the other two, his shop combines an antiquarian and collectors bookshop with a small art gallery.

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Professor John B. Thompson on the Transformation of Contemporary Trade Publishing

Professor John Thompson is honest about the fact that he is not a historian. Instead, he is a sociologist — he studies “the history of the present, and where we’re going.” His detailed yet succinct lecture, The Transformation of Contemporary Trade Publishing, framed what would perhaps seem like a static historical topic in a way that illuminated the dynamic, social nature of the state of publishing today. Indeed, not only did he shed light on the complex “cave system of the publishing industry,” as Dr Tom Mole mentioned in his introduction, he made compelling arguments about why that cave system is structured the way it is, how parts of it seem to be disintegrating, and why the future of the book is up for grabs.

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