The Highland Bookshop in Fort William is still a work in progress and will open its doors for the first time on 14 July 2017. Here co-owner Kevin Ramage tells the story of the new shop:
I thought the Watermill Bookshop in Aberfeldy kept me plenty busy enough – until just before Easter, when I popped around the corner for a Sunday morning coffee and bumped in Angus MacDonald, a customer of The Watermill and author of Ardnish was Home.
Angus always comes straight to the point; “What do you think of the idea of us going into partnership to open a bookshop in Fort William”. That was 9 April. Two trips to Fort Willliam to view properties later and I found myself negotiating our lease while travelling across Europe on a rail holiday. Now we are opening the doors just three months after the first conversation.
Where do I fit in?
Angus and myself have set up the business between us. Angus grew up in the area and still has lots of family and friends in Fort William. He is a born entrepreneur. Bookselling is my business. So add the two together – and we’ll see how it goes. One thing is certain– it will be great fun and rewarding.
What makes The Highland Bookshop stand out from others – physical and online…
The Highland Bookshop occupies an attractive old building right in the middle of Fort William’s High Street, complete with four huge windows. The building also has a large area upstairs – you will have to follow us on Facebook to find out our plans for this space!
Online – to start with we have been focussing on Facebook (thehighlandbookshop) rather than our website and we have had a huge response – a post advertising our jobs had a reach of over 17,000. Last week we passed over 1,000 likes – and we are not even open for another two weeks!
Authors and events
Alexander McCall Smith is our first author, opening the shop on 14 July – I understand he stays not too far away. The response to the opening has been huge so we’ll let you know how it goes. We are making approaches now to other authors to develop a strong programme of talks in to the autumn.
We are not open yet so it is hard to say who our customers will be, except that it will be people in wet coats as Fort William has the highest rainfall of any town in the UK. One of Angus’s reasons for opening a shop – it has loads of visitors and it rains a lot!
The most ridiculous request we’ve ever had?
To open a bookshop in Fort William!
Where did my love of the printed word begin?
Probably earlier, but reading Roy of the Rovers in bed by torchlight when I was meant to be asleep.
Which book has influenced me most / which poem talks to my soul?
In my youth, Robert Tressell’s classic The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists – it helped to develop an understanding of society that I inherited from my Dad. I’m not normally a big poetry reader, but I have just been alerted to Shelley by a wonderful reading at the recent Glastonbury Festival.
What am I reading right now ?
The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins. I’ve always been aware of a gap in my reading, of post-war Scottish fiction. Jayne read it on holiday and told me in no uncertain terms that it is a ‘must read’ book for our times. And she was right — powerful and unforgettable, it is a haunting story of love and violence, and an investigation of class-conflict, war and envy.