We're heading north for our bookshop of the month for February! Atkinson-Pryce Books is based in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Located in the small town of Biggar, between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Atkinson-Pryce has been shortlisted for the Independent Bookshop of the Year twice. We chatted to Millie about their customers, their achievements and any plans for the future...
1. In 2016 you were shortlisted for the Independent Bookshop of the Year. What are some of the milestones you’re most proud of as owners of Atkinson-Pryce Books?
Being shortlisted for Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2013 and 2016 was a huge achievement. There are so many great Bookshops in Scotland and being recognised among them is an honour. In 2008 we completed a large extension, nearly doubling the size of the shop and introducing a proper children’s section. This year will be the 24th year the shop has been open which we think is a pretty big milestone!
2. Being located almost in the middle between Edinburgh and Glasgow, do you find that your customer base is a mixture of locals and tourists? What books work best for them?
Our customer base is hugely diverse, lots of lovely locals as well as tourists. Biggar is a very successful market town and is situated on the main route North and South making it a great place to stop on the way past. Due to this we like to cover all basis – local walking guides do very well as does nature, poetry, fiction and travel. You never know what someone is looking for and we try to be as diverse as possible.
3. You stock quite a few Scottish and specialist local titles. What categories do these books cover? Fiction, architecture, art etc?
These books cover a range of categories – fiction, biography and autobiography, history, local and general interest. We have been instrumental in the re-publishing of some key local titles and like to support local interest.
4. You do quite a few events both in store and in local areas, including book signings, film screenings and literary lunches. What have been your most successful events?
That is very hard to say, where to start! There have been some fantastic author events in the shop such as Patrick Barkham (who has been to us 3 times) and Sarah Winman. The film screening of To Kill a Mockingbird to celebrate the launch of Go Set A Watchman was an inspired idea by the owner Chris and it was a fantastic evening – Gregory Peck on the big screen! From midnight launches for Harry Potter with live owls and local theatre groups in character to a delicious charity meal with guest speakers in aid of the Syrian Refugee Crisis (#CookForSyria) and great literary lunches with wonderful authors we are very lucky to get such events. We also run the pop-up bookshop for Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature of Thought at Traquair House. We work very hard to bring new and exciting events to the shop each year.
5. Do you have any exciting plans for the future you’d like to share here?
In 2016 we had the pleasure of hosting the Shore to Shore Poetry tour with Carol Ann Duffy and friends and are thrilled to say they will be returning in June for another incredible evening. It was an unmissable event, selling out with an audience of over 200 and we are excited to be able to share it with even more people and welcome the poets back to Biggar. Sally Magnusson is coming in April for a Literary Lunch and in February we have an evening with Joanna Trollope. This month we will be completing a refurbishment, converting the stairwell for the property above into a lovely new book nook. This is an exciting change that enables to shop to progress and evolve.