The Edinburgh International Book Festival and other literary events in Scotland will be “adversely affected” by Brexit, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told The Bookseller in a Q&A interview in the magazine this week.
“It’s not just business which will be adversely affected by Brexit,” she says. “It will affect our main literary events, like the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which has previously said it will struggle to recruit staff and is having to make contingency plans to cancel some projects due to the uncertainly to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The threat of Brexit on the book trade should not be underestimated."
In the interview, Sturgeon also champions her belief in encouraging children to read for pleasure, saying she is “incredibly proud of the success [of] the Reading Challenge”, the initiative she launched in primary schools with Scottish Book Trust in 2016 and which is now being rolled out to secondary schools. The First Minister also voices support for libraries and talks about “how important libraries are to communities and how essential the many services they offer are”. She believes that school provision is vital and notes that last September “we published a strategy which aims to ensure that every child in Scotland will have access to a school library – the first of its kind in the UK.”
Sturgeon also has praise for Scotland’s independent publishers, saying she has been “discovering new authors through them." She adds: "Charco Press and 404 Ink are particularly inspiring and doing some really exciting things.”
Her passion for books and her love of reading is evident. “From an early age, reading fiction has taught me about different people, circumstances and parts of the world – and it continues to do so even now.” She loved re-reading Muriel Spark last year, as part of the author’s centenary celebration, and says she is looking forward to Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.
She adds: “I’ll always make a point of recommending the latest books I’ve read on Twitter and I’ve received some great suggestions on there too. I’ve actually found Twitter has become an unofficial book club.”