Workshop 1

On 22 November, the first formal event of the Book Cultures, Book Events project took place. A workshop at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, brought together academics from diverse disciplines and practitioners from across the fields of Scottish publishing and literary events. The aim of the workshop was to initiate knowledge transfer between collaborators, explore methodological approaches appropriate to the area, and identify key research and policy questions.

Emergent themes and questions included:
• Tensions between economic and cultural aims
• The sustainability of the burgeoning Scottish literary events scene;
• Why so many literary events in Scotland?
• Rethinking event formats to meet audience expectations
• Challenges of the current public funding landscape and sponsorship
• The role of literary events in community identity
• The value of literary events in social inclusion
• Relationships between publishers, literary events, booksellers, authors, and audiences
• Literary events as a civic sphere for ideas exchange
• Meeting the democratic deficit
• Demographics: ‘the elephant in the room’
• Extending the audience and building longer-term audience
• The elitism/populism balance and public engagement
• The labour of cultural workers and volunteers subsidising many literary events
• Can tourism authorities include literature in Scotland’s tourist branding?
• Relationship between London publishers and Scottish literary events


Nick Barley, Edinburgh International Book Festival

Jenny Brown, Jenny Brown Associates

Rachel Blanche, Queen Margaret University

Sarah Brouillette, Queen Margaret University

Stephanie Craighill, Edinburgh Napier University

Karen Cunningham, Aye Write! Festival

David Finkelstein, Queen Margaret University

Robyn Marsack, Scottish Poetry Library

David McGillivray, University of the West of Scotland

Douglas McNaughton, Queen Margaret University

Alistair Moffat, Bookfestival Scotland

Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland

Alan Spence, Word Festival

Claire Squires, University of Stirling

Jim Thompson, Edinburgh City Council Library Service

Gavin Wallace, Creative Scotland