Tucked away at the edge of the Meadows, directly across the road from Tills bookshop, hides a delightful little green police box. This police box is anything but ordinary because it now houses a delightful pop-up shop, ‘In Other Words,’ associated with Tills bookshop. The pop-up shop offers a variety of translated works with themes that change monthly. Undoubtedly, Edinburgh’s bibliophiles will be charmed by this new venture.
I personally had the pleasure of visiting ‘In Other Words’ last week. The sleek green box looked newly painted with yellow words promising ‘small presses’ and ‘new writing in translation.’ On the shelves outside the box lay an enticing rainbow of book spines. Approaching the box, I was greeted by a kind bookseller sitting inside. The woman was amiable and chatty, offering personal recommendations and explaining the ethos of Tills’ quirky new initiative. ‘In Other Words’ endeavours to promote translated works and thus offer Edinburgh readers the chance to explore new writers and books. The theme for the curated June selection, the bookseller told me, is ‘movement’.
Although some may be sceptical of translated works, there is arguably a tremendous value in reading works that were originally written in different languages. Though reading the author’s original untranslated words can be ideal when it comes to understanding exact meanings and appreciating the authentic artistry, this isn’t always a viable option. Works in translation open up opportunities for a wider demographic to enjoy a diverse range of works from different parts of the world. Translated works allow readers to explore different cultures from the viewpoint of an author from that culture. Listening to the voices of a diversity of writers, therefore, gifts the reader with a myriad of different worldviews and works to build a global perspective.
During my visit, I spent a while perusing the selection and deciding which book to bring home with me. Ultimately, I picked up New Passengers by Tine Hoeg. Although, I also strongly considered Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali. When it comes to ‘In Other Words,’ there is no lack of choice. Their selection is wide and varied enough for any passerby to find a work of interest. The diverse assortment is impressive for the small space and makes browsing exciting. I am looking forward to reading the Danish-translated New Passengers, Hoeg’s novel about a young teacher’s affair.
There is very little not to love about ‘In Other Words.’ Unfortunately, the prices were a bit steep, unlike the inexpensive books at the nearby Tills bookshop, though this is perhaps to be expected for the brand new novels bought from small presses. The cultural value of the translated works also overrides my hesitations in regards to the costs, and after all, it is important to support small business ventures if they are to survive in the long run.
Finally, I hope residents and tourists alike make their way towards Hope Park Crescent this summer and pick up a translated work from the little bookshop. With its wide selection and rotating theme, there will surely be something intriguing for everyone. Open Thursday – Sunday, ‘In Other Words’ is an original, unconventional, and absolutely charming bookshop.
Image courtesy of Patricia Kohring.