Category Archives: Bookporn

bookporn #45: edinburgh

It’s been a while since my last bookporn installment. But I had the good fortune to visit Edinburgh over the summer–and what an unexpected windfall it was. The city itself is gorgeous, a tangle of medieval streets sprawled over an ex-volcanic landscape—cobblestones, narrow alleyways, tiny tea shops, and deceitful roads which mysteriously turn out to have been bridges all along. AND, bookshops! So many, in so many idiosyncratic spaces. Here is Tills Books: a wall-crush of books and still the gracious consent to natural light–


Tills has also perfected the art of war against space: the bookshelf stack. Behold, a mighty phalanx of bookshelves wedged between floor and ceiling: a triumphant conquest of dead space, reclaimed for king and country! or maybe for the sanity of the storekeeper.


But surely there is no more fitting source of bookporn than the so-called “pubic triangle” of Edinburgh. This is the western flank of the Old Town, famous as much for its proliferation of shady bars and lapdance parlours as for its astonishing concentration of second-hand bookstores. A heady mix of booze, bosoms and books, indeed; many of these establishments have been proudly balancing flesh-sleaze with bibliophilic erotica for decades. Here is Edinburgh Books, whose central room is presided over gravely by Clarence, resident water-buffalo:


and whose enormous space combines creative shelving, miscellaneous taxidermic creations and national pride:



and here is Armchair Books, a marvellous, eccentric place. Does that door ajar not entice? and seduce?


and upon entry, deliver untold delights, proffered to its lustful clientele atop a bed of luxurious Oriental carpets?


(They are, they declare, under sporadic, “feeble but sinister attack” by the government. I believe them).


so get thee to Edinburgh, where book and bosom meet in countless suggestive ways. I guarantee you will come away enraptured–and, given the range of excellent and well-priced merchandise, utterly spent.