Edinburgh's novel book scheme

25th January 2008 at 00:00
Vanessa Robertson is unimpressed by supermarket schemes that give free resources to schools. "You spend money, they give you vouchers and you hand them in to your children's school. When parents have spent something approaching the national debt, they can swap the mountain of vouchers for a tiddlywinks set. Or something. I'm simplifying."

The new scheme from Edinburgh-based independent publisher Fidra Books is better, she says. In essence, Fidra will donate books worth 5 per cent of the total spent in its bookshop by anyone connected to the school - "parents, grandparents, third cousins twice removed ... The school can top up the library or get new textbooks and we can suggest titles if they're short on inspiration. Schools collect the receipts, add them up, then pass them on to us. If it is within 10 miles of the shop, we'll deliver the books."

Launched in 2005 by Vanessa and her husband Malcolm, Fidra Books moved to larger premises last year, at the same time opening "Edinburgh's only specialist children's bookshop". Last month, this was included in The Bookseller's top 10 of new independent bookshops, says Vanessa: "We are the only one mentioned in Scotland and one of only two north of Bath."

Independent booksellers should be "part of the community", she believes, rather than simply profiting from it. "This is our way of giving something back."

The map in Treasure Island is supposed to have been inspired by the shape of Fidra, a small and uninhabited island in the Firth of Forth.

E vanessa@fidrabooks.com

Further adventures of a bibliophile bookseller: www.fidrabooks.comblog

Fidra Books Ltd, 219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DH. T 0131 447 1917. www.fidrabooks.com.

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