/ The Edinburgh Guide
Edinburgh — By Andy Hayes on June 2, 2010 at 11:13 am
Filed under: Events

Coming Soon: West Port Book Festival

Attention all poets, literaries, vocarious readers, and bookworm geeks:  The West Port Book Festival is just around the corner!

What Is It?

Well, there is of course the big book festival in August alongside the Edinburgh Fringe.  I would call that festival more of a mainstream book festival; the authors are all very well known (we’re talking the likes of J.K. Rowling here), so it casts a broad net, including those who only have a passing interest in literature.

West Port has a far more edgier feel to it, and it is very, what I would call “literary geek.”  I don’t mean that in any way offensive, I just mean that people here are VERY serious about their literature and nearly everyone is in someway strongly connected to the industry.

The West Port area has always had a very strong community vibe to it; this festival puts a face to that community, gives it a bit of visibility and provides easy access for new folk to come and join.  What’s not to like?

The Venues

Part of the attraction of the festival, for me, is simply the venues.  I just LOVE these old bookstores, with their seemingly endless shelves of books new and old, that slightly musty smell of old paper that today’s iPads and Kindles will never replace.  The jumble of it all, and the serendipity that the perfect book for you is just lurking nearby.

This year, the venues include (but are not limited to):

  • Edinburgh Books:  That’s the gorgeous bookshop you see pictured above.  I think I could live in here – terribly impractical, but if this place could talk…
  • Owl and Lion Gallery:  This is a relatively new wee shop on the corner of the Grassmarket.  It’s actually a great place to come and do some souvenir shopping; they tend to rotate their shop contents completely every month or two, so you never know what will be waiting.
  • Illicit Still: This pub is awesome – there’s free wifi, free comedy nights, and they serve a tasty beverage you simply must try:  Sheep Dip. (I’ll wait patiently while you laugh hysterically or make a face.)
  • The Lot:  On another corner of the Grassmarket is the Lot, which is an art house cum meeting centre cum restaurant and cafe.  The food here is great, and it’s one of those places that serves well for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks in between, so if you find yourself in the area and a bit peckish yet have no idea what you want, head here.

Special Events

Well, this year’s programme has a quite a few interesting tidbits on it.  Here are a few highlights for me:

  • Bookbinding Demonstration:  Paper seems to be truly a dying artform, with our whizzing gadgets and whirling electronic applications.  Apparently you’ll also learn how to get that golden hue effect – remember when books had that?  Nifty!
  • The Book That Changed My Life:  The Scottish Trust went out and asked lots of people what book changed their life, and at this event some of the answers will be revealed.  Should be pretty interesting.
  • Found Footage:  a nod to a different form of media, this session will explore  how to put old film footage to work.  Nice.

The programme is short but packed with all sorts of interesting events; there are several meet-n-greet style events, where you can just come to socialise in a low-impact environment.  So why not go?  If this sounds like your crowd, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

The Essentials

If you have a chance, be sure to stop by and check out the book festival – or even just to have a look at these fantastic shops if you can’t make it during the festival dates.

Logo courtesy of official Westport book festival website; other images from 2009 festival courtesy of chrisdonia

Related places:
  1. A
    Edinburgh Books
    145-147 West Port, Edinburgh, , United Kingdom
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Owl & Lion Gallery
    15 Grassmarket
    View Details and Book
  3. C
    illicit still
    View Details and Book
  4. D
    The Lot
    4 Grassmarket, Edinburgh
    View Details and Book
Tags: Events

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