October 23, 2017
Live out your romantic comedy dreams of owning a bookstore on this working holiday in Scotland
by Stephanie DeLuca
Planning a vacation? After you check out of that Paris hotel that delivers books via room service, head over to Wigtown, Scotland, where you can stay in an apartment above The Open Book bookshop and be trusted to run the store for up to two weeks.
The Open Book opened its doors four years ago, led by Jessica Fox, an American who’d been working as a storyteller for NASA (how do we get that job??). Dreaming of greener pastures, she crossed the pond to Scotland and began working at and living above a different Wigtown bookshop, called, fittingly, The Bookshop. Fox tells Jane Bradley over at The Scottsman, “It sounds like a romantic comedy, but I kept dreaming of working in a bookshop by the sea. I could see it clear as day — right down to the rain outside.”
After acquiring the Open Book—one of the sixteen bookshops in Wigtown, a town of 900 people—Fox realized thatleaving it all behind and moving to another country to run a bookstore is a pretty popular idea, and decided to give others a chance to try it on without having to permanently uproot their lives. She says, “I thought, ‘I’m sure I’m not the only crazy American out there who’d love to run a bookshop’ and that’s how The Open Book was born.”
Guests can book the flat above the Open Book via AirBnB for £36 a night. Your working vacation gives you the opportunity to run the shop, which includes organizing events and readings, redesigning window displays, and general management. Volunteers are graciously on hand to help out as needed, and a bicycle is provided for recreational use during downtime.
Fox’s project has proved to be extremely successful — reservations are booked solid until September 2020, and the store’s receiving rave reviews from happy vacationers online. Companies in China and South Korea, interested in developing “book towns” like Wigtown, have reached out to Fox to learn how the Open Book model works.
Book towns: towns with lots of bookstores, book festivals, literary events, and not a lot of people. Forget vacation, I’m moving there.
Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.