It's not unheard of for authors to have their own bookshops.

The bestselling young adult writer Judy Blume owns a bookstore in Florida, while George RR Martin, author of the Game of Thrones fantasy series, has opened a bookshop in Santa Fe where he lives.

But how many books can say they have their own bookshop? Jenny Colgan’s new novel, Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop, can claim just that, however.

For the second year in a row, Kay’s Bookshop in Victoria Street, Edinburgh, has rebranded itself as The Christmas Bookshop to tie in with the publication of the romantic novelist’s second book in her latest series which is also set in a bookshop in Victoria Street. Beat that Stephen King.

“I can’t explain how exciting it is,” the author told The Herald. “Something that was in your head suddenly appears in the real world. I normally write about imaginary places so it’s quite unusual for me to write about real places. And to see this on a real street. It’s just a joy.”

The Herald: Jenny ColganJenny Colgan (Image: Stewart Attwood)

Colgan is one of Scotland’s most successful writers. Her romantic novels have sold nine million copies and The Christmas Bookshop - the first in the current series - was a New York Times bestseller.

Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop will be launched on Sunday night with a signing session in the Victoria Street shop. At midnight, naturally. Covid permitting that is. “I seem to have got quite a bad dose,” Colgan admitted. “It’s kind of embarrassing really. It’s a very 2020 thing to be doing.”

The midnight launch will also mark the opening of this year’s Book Week Scotland, the annual celebration of books, reading and literature. Run by the Scottish Book Trust, this year’s events include author appearances by the likes of Alexander McCall Smith, Tam Cowan, Bernard McLaverty and Alex Gray.

Alan Moore, author of such graphic novels as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, will also take part in an online discussion with Heather Parry.

Colgan believes that events like Book Week Scotland are essential for maintaining the visibility of books in the culture.

Read more: Jenny Colgan on what men get wrong about women

“These days when everyone is looking at their phones I think it is easy to forget how many people still read,” Colgan said. “There is an idea that people don’t read anymore because you can’t see it in the way you used to. And it is simply not true. People are still reading.”

People do still love great books and good stories, she added. It is just that they might be reading on Kindles or listening to audiobooks.

If anything, Colgan argues, digital media is helping to nurture new audiences for books. “We see things like BookTok which is hugely successful among young people, particularly young women, who really show their absolute love for books and are such a wonderful force for bookselling.”

And she doesn’t see the reading habit dying out any time soon. “We have generations of Harry Potter children and Hunger Games children. That isn’t going away.”

What Colgan doesn’t care for, however, is the idea that reading should be sold as something that is good for you. “I am not crazy about it when it’s sold like, ‘Now eat your vegetables.’ That reading is something you should do, rather than something you want to do.

“What you have to do is talk about the fun of it and how nice it is at night to have a book to come back to before you go to sleep, particularly when the news is horrible. To have something that makes your day a bit better.”

The Herald: Jenny ColganJenny Colgan (Image: Stewart Attwood)

Similarly, Colgan argues, reading to your children should also be encouraged as a pleasure not a chore. “What we need to be stressing is that however stressful your day is, getting to read to a small child at the end of it will invariably be the nicest bit of it.”

Unsurprisingly, Colgan feels that bookshops still have an important role to play in a digital world.. But does the romantic novelist believe that bookshops are romantic places in themselves?  “Of course, yeah. They’re full of every great love story in the world and they don’t mind how long you stay there.

“ And there is that old famous John Waters quote,” she added, referencing the director of Hairspray and Pink Flamingos, “that you really only ought to date - that’s not the word he uses - people who read.”

Finally, now that her new book temporarily has its own bookstore is Colgan tempted to open one herself? “In Aberdour, where we live, occasionally shops come up and I think a little bookshop would be nice. But I couldn’t do the accountancy.”
Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan is published by Sphere. The author will launch the book on Sunday at midnight to mark the beginning of Book Week Scotland. More details about events can be found at