Adventure into Books, Blairgowrie

Adventure into Books

Adventure into Books

I’ve always thought it was incredibly brave to open up a bookshop considering all the difficulties inherent in the business, but Kate and Ralph have decided to open one in hard mode in the middle of the first lockdown of 2020.

It’s been a while since I visited Blairgowrie (198… ok let’s just leave that) but a bookshop is always a great excuse to return to a town.

Adventure into Books
26 Wellmeadow
Blairgowrie
PH10 6AS
Telephone: 01250 872852

Website: www.adventureintobooks.co.uk
Facebook: @adventureintobooks
Instagram: @adventureintobooks

In their own words

How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?


Adventure into books: It had to say ‘books’ and describe the feeling of choosing and reading a book – also helps on listings that it starts with ‘A’.

Who are you? Owns the bookshop? Bit of a bio and pics, please


I’m Kate (Kate Davies), and I own the bookshop, which I run with the help of my husband, Ralph Baillie. I had long held a thought to open a bookshop, and when I found myself in the lovely Perthshire town of Blairgowrie, I reckoned it was time to make that idea a reality. The golden thread for me is words: always a lover of books, I ran a school magazine, then built a career around writing (for businesses), and am now delighted to be bringing words to other people. (My brother warned me that I did actually have to sell the books in my shop – not just read them myself)

General background/history of the shop please


We opened on 2 July 2020. An interesting year to learn a whole new trade. But we enjoyed and survived our first 6 months, and we’re looking forward to celebrating our first birthday in the summer!

Do you stock a variety of genres or do you specialise?


We try to have something for everyone, but as we’re fairly small the focus is on children, fiction (general, crime/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, classics, poetry), local (fiction and non-fiction: histories, maps, walking etc), and non-fiction (big emphasis on histories, biographies, through to the natural world). We try to make sure we have a good selection of Scottish books – local authors, books set in Scotland etc.

Do you mainly sell new or second-hand books?


New books.

What makes your bookshop special?


It’s early days, but the bookshop complements the town. There are lots of bibliophiles in the area: we have a great literary festival (in normal times), a community-run second-hand bookshop, a good library, and a Christian bookshop. And it is a town with schools, lots of independent shops, a thriving sense of community and (usually) a good flow of visitors – we seek to support all of this. We see ourselves as a service.

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

Juggling all the things that need to be done and trying to find time to read books.

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?


People – we get to help people looking for that special gift, we get to share special moments like the arrival of a first grandchild, and for many of the books we sell, we get a story in return. Joy.

What’s the most surprising thing about being a bookseller?


People – from all walks of life.

What are the goals for your bookshop?


To spread words and contribute to the town.

Do you think owning a bookshop has changed your life? How?


I’ve become way more sociable! Which is saying something in a pandemic year.

What book do you wish would sell better?


My husband would say David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet – very well written and an essential message.

I would say Along The Amber Route by CJ Schuler – not so much for teaching me about amber, but for teaching me about the changing nature of borders and challenging our concept of ‘country’.

What little-known book do you think is underrated?


It’s not underrated (I’ve only ever had good feedback on it), but I would love more people to know about Threads of Life by Clare Hunter. A fascinating history of textiles and sewing and the cultural and economic importance this has played through the years.

What well-known book do you think is overrated?


Shuggie Bain – way too long and repetitive. There is a story arc in it but it just gets lost.

What is your preferred reading genre?


Everything.

Describe your store in three words.


Light, bright, welcoming.

What book is your greatest treasure? Why?


I have too many ‘treasures’ (just had to buy another bookcase at home)– but the one that gets most work is my Thesaurus. It’s helped me earn a living as a writer.

What was your favourite childhood book? Why?


Heidi – scary in its uncertainty then comforting.

If you could invite any author for a book signing at your shop, who would you choose?


David Attenborough and Rachel Joyce (loved her book ‘Miss Benson’s Beetle’)

Where do you think the biggest change in book publishing will come from?

Diversity of voice – race, gender, age and background.

Diversity of format – printed books, graphics, audio, ebooks ….. virtual reality?

How do you reach potential readers/customers?


Shop window works amazingly well; but also Facebook and Instagram (working up to Twitter), our website, the town website, the local papers and the local quarterly Hub magazine. We’ve also taken orders while out walking on a Sunday in the local woods….

How do you choose the books you stock?

Mixture of what’s selling well, our customer mix, recommendations, press blurb, gut instinct.

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?


Just getting to know them; but do love our local Perth publisher – Tippermuir Books. Not mainstream, but a delight to work with.

Name three books on your TBR.


Olive Again; The Boundless Sea; The Evening and the Morning

What are you reading at the moment?


Just finished Fragile Monsters (Catherine Menon) – good book for a book club; now starting into Girl A.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from selling books?


I learn something every day and hope I continue to do so.

What music, if any, do you play in your shop? Why?


We don’t. It would be jazz if we did…. But that’s too distracting.

What is the best book-related gift you’ve ever received?


A badge depicting books, which a friend gave me when we opened the shop, and a book-festooned cushion made by my business mentor (and quilter), again for our opening.

What is the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked for?


‘Do you know where I can get a mouse trap?’ Or, more related ‘could you find me a book about Welsh copper mining and slavery in the 16th century?’ – we did! Two of them!

What do you get up to in a normal bookselling day?


A bit of everything: chatting with customers, selling books, ordering books, paying bills, posting something on FB, speaking with publishers, speaking with the local paper, updating the websites, making decorations for the next window display….

What is the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you?

That they love our bookshop and can they distribute some our catalogues so their friends know about us!


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Ullapool Bookshop, Ullapool

The next shop in the monthly Browse a Bookshop feature is Ullapool Bookshop in Ullapool, all the way up in Ross and Cromarty (that’s the Highlands of Scotland for the uninitiated). Beautiful countryside and books, what more could a person need?

Ullapool Bookshop,
Quay Street,
Ullapool,
IV26 2UE

Website: www.ullapoolbookshop.co.uk
Sales site: www.ullapooltrading.com (new online niche shop)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ullapoolbookshop
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ullapoolbookshop

Open all year round 7 days a week, in the summer we open 9am-9pm 6 days a week and 10am-5pm on Sundays

In their own words…

How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?

Name of the place we live in!

Who are you? Owns the bookshop?

Bookshop is owned by Mr William Thomson and Mrs Katrina Thomson, local family. Managed by Katharine Douglas for the past 2 years, along with 4 part time members of staff. We are open 7 days a week and from 9am-9pm May-September Monday – Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sundays.

General background/history of the shop please

Opened in 2003 in this location opposite ferry terminal to Lewis (Outer Hebrides)

Do you stock a variety of genres or do you specialise?

All genres stocked, specialties include: Scottish History, Scottish General and Scottish Highlands and Islands. We also have a large children’s area, maps, guides and a great greeting card area too.

Do you mainly sell new or second-hand books?

All new books.

What makes your bookshop special?

Open all year round 7 days a week, in the summer we open 9am-9pm 6 days a week and 10am-5pm on Sundays.

What’s the most surprising thing about being a bookseller?

No time to read books!

What is your preferred reading genre?

Fiction, biography, travel writing

Describe your store in three words.

Bright / Colourful / Interesting

What was your favourite childhood book? Why?

Little House on the Prairie by laura Ingells Wilder. Her journey captured my imagination and I loved to hear about the tales on the prairies. Great book to read aloud with kids too.

If you could invite any author for a book signing at your shop, who would you choose?

Only one author? Too hard a question by far! ….Peter May? Ian Rankin (he has been in already) or Katharine Stewart (which would be difficult
as she passed way but I would have loved to meet her in person and ask her about life as a crofter near Loch Ness.

Where do you think the biggest change in book publishing will come from?

If Supermarkets didn’t sell books at 1/2 price, that would help us all.

How do you choose the books you stock?

I know my customers and listen to them / read magazines and newspapers / read magazines from our distributors /

Name three books on your TBR

Ice Breaker by Horatio Clare / Close Call by Quintin Jardine and Travelling Light by Alastair Sawday

What are you reading at the moment?

Michael Dibdin: an Inspector Zen mystery and A Farmer’s Diary by Sally Unwin

What music, if any, do you play in your shop? Why?

No music, no facilities to play music

What is the best book-related gift you’ve ever received?

Christmas tree decoration in the shape of a pile of books.

What is the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked for?

Umm……too long a list to mention: bait? / a book on Scotland which was blue (you know the one right?!) /

What do you get up to in a normal bookselling day?

Rearranging books / ordering books / talking about books / promoting books

What is the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you?

That they like the smell of the bookshop (in a good way).


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.