My obsession with books started at a young age. My mother worked as the librarian in the village library and we lived in the library flat upstairs. From about age seven to twenty I had unlimited access to as many books as I wanted to read.
Like many people of my age, as a child, I read the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and other Enid Blyton classics. I also found a passion for reading ghost stories which I still enjoy reading such as M.R. James and Edgar Allan Poe.
When I was eleven I read Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, bought from a library book sale and I loved his writing so much that I got hooked on horror fiction. Exploring this new area of escapism, I went on to read many other horror writer’s works, including James Herbert, Clive Barker and Dennis Wheatley.
Once I got older, I started to collect used books from charity shops and library sales, which helped to build up my collection. Even car boot sales were a treasure trove for finding and buying discount books.
At this point in my life, as a young adult, I moved on to autobiographies and biographies of living people or historical figures who I found interesting including Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots and these sparked my lifelong interest in Scottish history as well as other history books. Many of the autobiographies are by people who have lived extraordinary lives from crofters to kings. Some of my favourite books of all time are the non-fiction books by Gavin Maxwell including Ring of Bright Water about his time living in the Highlands and islands with his pet otters.
About ten years after completing my accountancy degree and working as a Chartered Accountant, I decided to return to university to learn more history at St Andrews University as part of my MA and I studied Art History, Scottish History, Medieval History and Modern History and also English literature modules but it became evident that I didn’t enjoy analysing books such as Wuthering Heights or Heart of Darkness and just wanted to read for enjoyment. During my degree, I worked in the University library and was surrounded by academic and reference books, so it was always a pleasure to find a new subject to read about.
I love studying so much that I then completed a Humanities degree with the Open University including creative writing and children’s literature modules. I still enjoy reading children’s books by J.K. Rowling, Phillip Pullman Neil Gaiman (as well as his other fiction).
Crime writing is also a huge interest of mine, and you can see this in my online store and there are so many excellent Scottish crime writers that it seems unfair to name only one or two.
I never intended to start selling my book collection but in 2014 I needed to move in with my elderly disabled mother. I had nowhere to keep all my books, so I began selling them on Amazon. It started as a hobby but then in January 2017 I suffered a haemorrhagic stroke which has left me disabled and unable to work full time due to severe fatigue and mobility problems.
In February 2018 I decided to turn this hobby into a full-time business employing my nephew Sean. I continue to sell my 4000 strong book collection on both Amazon and my own website and I have found great success in doing this.
We have also started to sell new books at a discount on the Kingdom Books website, which I source from wholesalers here in Scotland. The business offers free delivery within the UK, and so far, we have also sold books to Australia, Finland, France, Spain, Sweden and the USA. We even have our own Scottish bookseller Instagram account and Facebook page to help connect with our customers and we are about to start on Twitter too.
Currently, I am also doing courses on book publishing, and I hope to start my own book publishing business in the near future. So, keep an eye out for any news I may have on that!
On the whole, it’s been an interesting journey to get here, but through my stroke, I have been able to find my true passion – selling books.