Category Archives: Blog

The library evolution

I saw the BBC article about how libraries are having to diversify and branch out in order to keep visitors, and thought it was absolutely wonderful news! In an era where library funding, arts funding and general public spending is either being cut or re-prioritised, the fact that library staff care enough to get together and do something different is a sign of their dedication and commitment. They could easily walk away, close early and not care. But those libraries doing something different, going above and beyond to serve their communities is an absolute pleasure to read about.

Also it is good to see libraries catching up, realising that it’s no longer just about the books and they can’t rely upon the support of their local council to sort them out. Larger bookstores have been adapting to compete for years, video and dvd rental stores have disappeared because they couldn’t adapt and had a redundant business model in the age of digital. I know with libraries it is slightly different because they are publicly funded, but some appear to be taking a look at themselves and taking action. By bringing visitors through their doors for other reasons, the library will continue to lend books. In turn visitors will get to find out about all the other local events and groups which always adorn the pinboards of libraries. And then the cycle will continue.

I think by diversifying, libraries could find themselves at the heart of their local community by adapting their function and inviting people in who aren’t primarily interested in books. If they did that, their destiny would be in their own hands.


A couple of weeks ago the Bookspotting app was launched to much fanfare throughout the Scottish publishing world. Many thanks to Saraband and Publishing Scotland for the collaboration and efforts. And many congratulations on the achievement too.

The concept is fairly simple but a good one, being able to locate points of interest from Scottish books and authors whilst walking around on your iPhone. It can pick up your GPS location or alternatively you can search for an author, a place or a book title. You can walk down the road in Dunfermline and see where Iain Banks’ first collection of short fiction The State of the Art was conceived. Or head to Edinburgh and find the Elephant House where JK Rowling first penned her Harry Potter series (not that it needs much help!)

The look of the app is very much a homage to the famous Trainspotting artwork which the app also borrows its name from. I like that once the app is open you are greeted with a book of the day, and a list of titles that were published on this day in years gone by. It does a great job of bringing different authors and titles to the user’s attention without being in your face. But I have to question how much information they have available to draw from. It says ‘putting Scottish books in your pocket’ – does that mean it has every single Scottish book published? I understand there are a few limitations, but I (selfishly) search for a couple of Fledgling titles and they didn’t appear. A few appeared, but then it was only one from that author.

A couple of years ago when we were helping RJ Mitchell set up his blog we tried doing something similar, using Google maps instead of an app. We were (and still are to a point) technically limited so had to work with what we had. We worked with Mitchell to identify several key locations from the book, pinpointed them on Google maps, gave the locations titles and an extract from the book et voila! Compared to the app now it’s a dated and redundant method but it goes to show that with a little imagination you can go a bit further than just showing a city for a book. Maybe it’s something we can revisit again for other titles. And maybe the app will continue to evolve and develop with new features. Hopefully so!

It’s great to see a ‘smaller’ publisher doing something innovative and new, it should happen more often!

It does inspire you to think ‘What if’ or ‘I wonder how we can do that’.

Shop Front Review

Shop Front begins with every students nightmare – having finished their degree and facing the prospect of ‘settling’ for a mundane job they believe they’re better than. That fall from grace, slipping into old habits and getting back into the boring ‘real world’ that doesn’t care whether you got a second in your degree or a second degree burn.

Shop Front FINAL

The story follows Ben Hamilton as he returns home from University, the promise of better prospects and opportunities for graduates still fresh in his mind. He ends up walking the inevitable path of any graduate in a small time – accepting a job at his local supermarket, where he meets new friends and reluctantly begins to drift into their way of life. With twists and turns in the plot and not wanting to give too much away, the result ends up with two of the gang in A+E wondering how it went so wrong!

It explores the frustrations with unfulfilled ambition, the need to be accepted and fit of Ben Hamilton who has returned ‘home’ having lived away. It covers the expectations of having to do something or achieve something with your life, combined with some valuable life lessons and feel good notions thrown into the mix.

A well written story that follows the highs and lows of somebody who doesn’t know what they want to do, but knows they need a change. Whether you have graduated recently (or not), wonder about having a change or are averse to risk, this is a book that will push you into action!

Shop Front is available to buy from Fledgling Press, Amazon or any other good book retailer.

ECA Competition 2014

Edinburgh students go digital for 2014 Book Competition

With the first two printed titles of 2014 already signed off and ready for production, Fledgling Press set a new challenge for the students at the Edinburgh College of Art in the fourth year of their book cover competition. The title students would be producing their cover for this year was an eBook only title.

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