Take a Vacation, Be a Bookseller

by Alex Heimbach

There's a new vacation option for bibliophiles that may replace Jane Austen tours and the Harry Potter theme park in your holiday fantasies. You can now live for a week above a bookshop — and run the place yourself. Located in Wigtown, Scotland's national book town, The Open Book welcomes travelers who want to spend a week selling books, provides training from local booksellers, and offers the chance to inject your own personal style with book displays and special events. Each resident is also invited to write about their experiences on the Open Book's blog.

Though newly listed on AirBnB, The Book Shop holiday has been up and running for almost a year under the guardianship of the Wigtown Book Festival, which leases the store from a local family. "It can be a hard life, selling books in a small town, so it’s not a holiday for everybody," says Adrian Turpin, director of the book festival. But so far, the guests, who've ranged from retired American booksellers to English artists to the Bookshop Band, have raved about their experiences.

Visitors are encouraged to close the shop for a day or two to take in the local sights, which include not just the adorable Wigtown itself but also the gorgeous vistas of southern Scotland, the oddly named but historically enlightening Devil's Porridge Museum, a fair share of castles, and the infamous Gretna Green, where couples are always running off to in British novels.

The residency costs a relatively affordable 150 pounds a week — just enough to cover costs and help keep the shop in business. If you're already researching plane tickets, be aware that you'll need to book well in advance: The Open Book is currently full through mid-December.

Image: Hanoi Photography/Fotolia