Specialist booksellers from all over the UK and Ireland, including from the Isle of Skye itself, will be crowding into the Aros Centre, in Portree, for the PBFA Antiquarian Book Fair this week.

There is free entry for people interested in browsing the antiquarian; second-hand; collectable and rare books; and other printed material offered for sale at the centre coinciding with Skye Book Festival.The event is open on Thursday 12noon–5.30pm; Friday 9.00am – 5.30pm; and Saturday 9.00am–4.30pm.

One island-based specialist who will be at the fair is Gilleasbuig Ferguson Rare Books based at Taigh na Mara, Skeabost Bridge, on the drive which leads to the Skeabost Hotel.  This is run by Gilleasbuig Ferguson whose specialisms include Early Scottish books, Highlands, Hebrides and Scottish Gaelic; Geology; Darwin; natural history; evolutionary science; and fine bindings.

Another islands-based bookseller is Kenny Macleod, of Hebridean Books, Eoropie, Ness, Isle of Lewis, who deals with secondhand Scottish, Highlands and Islands, Gaelic, Football and Sport books.Kenny said he thought there were many benefits in having a fair of this kind in the island. 

“It gives the dealers an opportunity to get out and about and see a beautiful part of the country, meet new dealers, make new contacts but, above all, sell books.  I feel the fair is getting busier as more and more people find out about it.”He adds that he is one of the new sellers to the fair – this will be his third year of attending.  “As the festival becomes more established we will see more and more people attending.”

On the wider benefits of that having a festival of this sort on the islands, Gilleasbuig Ferguson said:" Though the internet has changed the book trade radically forever there will always be room for bookfairs.  There is nothing to compare to being able to handle and experience books for real and the benefits of having a book fair like this in the Isle of Skye is two-fold.  It gives book-lovers who have perhaps not considered collecting rare and antiquarian books a chance to see and handle such items, when they come to the venue for festival events.  It also gives local book collectors who may not have the opportunity to visit bookfairs in the cities the chance to view and purchase items from a number of respected dealers from all over the country.

"Having a bookfair so near to home is great.  There is no need to book accommodation for starters, and if I forget something, I'm only 6 miles away!  It also gives us a chance to show some Highland hospitality to book-dealers who have travelled the length of the country in some instances - our Friday-night bash for the dealers at our home is now a firm fixture.  It also gives me a chance to introduce many Skye folk to my stock and the trade which I love, who might not have considered paying my shop in Skeabost a visit."

And what will Gilleasbuig himself have to tempt buyers? "I will have a number of interesting items for sale from out-of-print Gaelic books for £3 each to a first edition of Darwin's Descent of Man (two volumes - 1871) for £3950.  It's important to encourage people to come and have a look; it's free  to browse and there's no pressure to buy.  Just come along and enjoy the opportunity of handling some remarkable pieces of history and please ask lots of questions!"

Among those travelling from afar, there is Creaking Shelves Books, from Fort William, Lochaber, which specialises in general non-fiction (especially natural history), mountaineering, medicine, Scottish topography and history.  There is also Hilary Farquharson from Forfar, Angus, who specialises in Scottish, travel and fine bindings in many subjects; Michael Moon's Bookshop, Whitehaven, Cumbria, covering Lake counties, History, Cinema, and Antiquarian; Mr Mac books from Tynron, Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway, with general stock and anything of Scottish interest; and RGM BOOKS from Hallglen, Falkirk, specialising in general antiquarian books, comics and ephemera.