Scotland is a long way from the smug hills of Stroud, so TheBookGuide don't often get the opportunity to inspect the bookshops. Accordingly, your help in keeping me up-to-date will be more than usually appreciated. Many thanks to Mark Sutcliffe for his recent updates.
The largest concentration of shops outside Glasgow and Edinburgh, but with no town having more than one. McLaren Books in Helensbough are maritime specialists, and River Thoughtful Fishing Books in Blairgowrie are, unsurprisingly, big on fishing. Stirling Books have a large theology and philosophy section, along with fiction from the 1800's through to current paperbacks and hardbacks.
With the reopening of Southside Books the number of independent and charity bookshops has recently grown to twenty-eight, so Edinburgh must be the place to visit if you are serious about book browsing in Scotland.
Thanks largely to Jeremy Briggs efforts we now have thirteen shops listed for Glasgow, together with reviews of most of them. Apparently, there are also three or four bookstalls at the London Road Market on Saturday and Sunday. Of the shops, I would head for Voltaire & Rousseau, just to see which side of the Marmite debate I was on.
It will come as no surprise that secondhand bookshops are pretty thinly spread in Highlands of Scotland. However, if you get as far as Inverness, Leakey's Second Hand Bookshop with some 100,000 books in an old church, has to be worth a visit. Of the other eight shops we have listed, Highflight Books in Dingwall and The Logie Steading Bookshop in Forres, are the only two which have received any reviews.
As the eight secondhand bookshops on the islands are separated by both considerable distances and lots of water, it's unlikely that you will be visiting one unless staying on that particular island. On the other hand, great pleasure to be had from visiting bookshops in truly out of the way places.
The North East
The shops in the north east of Scotland are all currently in Dundee,or Aberdeenshire. Dundee has two bookshops, Aberdeen has five shops - of which The Old Aberdeen Book Shop might be worth a visit, and both the bookshops in Ballater sound like they could be worth investigating.
The South East
A scattering of shops, none of which I've visited, but most have been reviewed by our readers. Last Century Books in Innerleithen seems to have the broadest range of stock,
FoundItAtLast: A Bookshop In The Middle of Nowhere is described as WAD by the reviewer, and The Book Room in Melrose has attracted three positive reviews.
The South West
Abbey Books in Paisley is probably the biggests shop in the area with some 40,000 titles and some good reader's reviews. Solway Books in Kirkcudbright looks like it could be worth a visit, particularly if you are on your way to Wigtown. Otherwise, apart from the Moffat Book Exchange, and a couple of unreviewed shops, it's mainly charity bookshops.
In 1997, after falling out with the supporters of Wigtown, Richard Booth tried to turn Dalmellington into a Book Town. By 2005 it had become the Book Town with no bookshops ... more
In the public imagination at least, secondhand bookshops and Hay on Wye have become as synonymous as vacuum cleaners and Hoover. A neat trick if you can do it and one that Wigtown, "Scotland's National Book Town", has been trying to emulate since 1998. In 2003, Harry Bell's Wigtown Trip (a tongue in cheek account of three book collectors visit to the town) certainly ruffled a few feathers, and is still worth reading. The number of shops in the town seems to have stabilised at ten, the biggest and best of which is The Bookshop.