Back in 2004, Edinburgh was the first city to receive the title of “City of Literature” by UNESCO for its literary heritage that spans over many centuries and current efforts in this regard. And it shows. Edinburgh is known for its famous authors, book festivals, publishing scene, unique bookshops, libraries and museums, literary prizes, so much more. There is always something taking place in this city and events to look forward to.
In the few months I’ve been in Edinburgh, these are some of the events that took place.
#BookshopDay is a campaign first launched in 2016 by Books are My Bag. This year it took place on October 7 and more than 2,000 bookshops throughout the UK and Ireland were involved. The public had the chance to win book tokens and purchase a limited edition totes in two different designs –– one for adults and another for kids. You better believe I got my hands on one.
Later on, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the Saltire Society Literary Awards Shortlist announcement at Waterstones in Princes Street. These awards celebrated Scottish literature and the publishers behind them. During this event, the nominees for the various categories were unveiled, a small excerpt was read for a few of the books, and wine was shared.
A very pleasant surprise was finding out about SYP (Society of Young Publishers) Scotland. This is an organization that works throughout the UK to support new publishers entering the industry. They’ve organized gatherings such as the socials where students and professionals alike have the opportunity to chat and network. Other events were the 6×6 with PublishEd, Inclusivity in Children’s Publishing, and the Christmas Party where guests speakers would share their experiences and current work in the publishing industry.
This Is It! Literary Cabaret took the attendees on a 90-minutes run-through of the literary highlights of 2017 regarding publishing, festivals, libraries, writer, and more. Some of the speakers included award-winning poet William Letford, Francis Bickmore form Canongate Book, and best-selling author Louise Welsh.
On a bigger scale and for extended dates, we had the Edinburgh Book Festival, “the largest public celebration of the written word in the world” according to their website. More than 1,000 writers and thinkers gather for this festival. Then there was the Radical Book Fair which is Edinburgh’s alternative, independent, and entirely bookshop run flee market of books and ideas. It included over 80 stalls and various guest speakers. Book Week Scotland ran on an even bigger scale having activities and lectures in different cities in Scotland.
Furthermore, there are book launches and author signing events taking place frequently at various bookshops. And if you want to mix literature and history, a number of literary tours are available in Edinburgh that will take you around town to places of literary significance or you could visit the coffee shop where JK Rowling wrote part of Harry Potter. (That’s The Elephant House in case you’re interested.)
Coming from a country that’s a clear contrast, it’s been a welcomed surprise moving to a city that avidly celebrates and shares its love for literature. It has reaffirmed my decision to go forward with my publishing masters and nurtured my love for books. In the recipe for publishing, Edinburgh definitely is the secret ingredient that makes it all even better.
-Damarys S. Campos