For avid readers, there’s nothing more satisfying than stepping into a bookstore. Its a trifecta of sensory experiences: the smell of paper, the sight of stocked shelves, and the faint jingle of the bell above the door that notes visitors’ arrival – it’s a book lovers’ antidote to the weight of the world.
Generally, this experience is a temporary one, lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to an entire afternoon, depending on the level of bibliophilia. But that’s not the case at The Open Book in Wigtown, a small village in southwest Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway region. Here, guests not only sleep at the bookshop, they also run it.
It’s a radical idea – the notion of allowing untrained patrons to manage the finances, organization, and overall needs of the store. But for book lovers who travel from all over the world to The Open Book, an overwhelming enthusiasm for reading is the only necessary qualification.
The requirements are simple enough. Vacationers stay for at least a week. On the first day, they create a small, front of house display using a genre or topic that gives the local community an idea of the people running the store that week. After that, the shop runs like clockwork, with guests manning the bookstore during the day and cozying up in the little apartment above at night.
Small towns are all too often stereotyped as rejecting outside visitors, but Wigtown promptly debunks that mischaracterization. Reviewers of the Airbnb note that locals pop into the shop almost daily to share the ins and outs of the city, usually with baked goods in tow.
It’s no surprise really, considering that Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town, and has been since 1998. Despite only having a population of roughly 1,000 people, Wigtown offers the most book-related shops and events in all of Scotland. Basically, it’s not just The Open Book, but the entire town that is a book lovers haven.
Don’t pack your bags yet though. The Scottish Airbnb is booked through until 2021 – essentially, as far as Airbnb will take reservations. But interested travelers are welcome to put their name on the ever-growing waitlist.
Not to worry as the ongoing enthusiasm makes it clear that The Open Book isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. For now, bibliophiles will just have to put their name on the list, and maybe read a book or two in the meantime.