Post Covid, its been a tough few years for many businesses, but particularly for visitor attractions, and museums. However, the outlook for 2024 is hopeful and retail will continue to play an important role in recovering lost revenues and boosting local economies.

Bookspeed’s Angus Reid has been supporting Scottish retail outlets, from small distilleries to large visitor attractions, to curate book ranges for more than 10 years. We asked him to share his thoughts on what makes a book a top seller for the Scottish tourism and heritage market.

Scottish themed book scattered on a table

Why is it worth including books in a gifting range?

Books will amplify retail stories and themes when included in ranges with other products. In a retail setting, carefully chosen books can add texture and help entice shoppers. Part of our service at Bookspeed is identifying titles that work well in those places. We look for great design, interesting formats, and those beautiful tactile covers. Elements that we know will work well in creative displays.

What are the essentials when curating a book range for the Scottish heritage and tourist market?

There is always a demand for iconic Scottish motifs, such as highland cows, tartans or Nessie. Our Scottish bestsellers are packed with books that highlight those aspects of Scottish culture. Overseas visitors and “staycationers” expect to find attractive mementos of their visits here.

People are often drawn to Scotland’s natural landscape, so I will always recommend incorporating themes, such as wild swimming, cycling, walking or anything nature related. I always look for books that are impulsively giftable, particularly books that are beautifully illustrated, or designed, and in an appealing format. Cost is also a consideration and we find books represent excellent value for money, especially in challenging times.

For overseas visitors who may have travelled with limited suitcase space, large hardbacks might be off-putting. So, make sure you include small, lighter books within your range to encourage those impulse purchases.

Scottish themed books scattered on a rustic table

Are there any new or emerging themes to consider?

I’ve seen a renewed interest in Scottish folklore and myth, both for children and adults, and we have a great selection of interesting titles. They come in a variety of formats and prices, covering all aspects of Scottish history and culture.

Exploring TV and film settings such as those featured in Outlander, Harry Potter and Shetland continue to draw people to Scotland. The Jacobite Rebellion, Highland Clearances and some of the other dark periods of our history will continue to fascinate and attract interest.The reappraisal of witches and their place in Scotland’s story has been reflected in a slew of interesting new books being published.

Producing and selling whisky is a mainstay of Scotland’s international trade and visiting distilleries is becoming ever more popular. There are books about whisky for everybody, from the casual visitor to the enthusiastic expert so don’t overlook whisky-themed books in your ranges!

What about any standout Scottish titles to look out for this year?

We love celebrating our local and sustainably sourced ingredients and recently we’ve seen cookery titles Seasonal Salads and the Hebridean Baker at Home, sell really well. Café Canna: Recipes from a Hebridean Island is a new title coming out in the March 2024 and it looks lovely.

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If you need help sourcing and curating a book range for your retail offering, get in touch. We work with retailers of all types and sizes all across the UK. 

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