Last chapter for Ian and Pat and the Ben Nevis Book Corner


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It has been used as everything from an unofficial tourist information centre, left luggage office, creche, genealogy centre and somewhere for auld acquaintances just to enjoy a craic.

That’s all on top of the main reason for the existence of Ben Nevis Book Corner in Fort William’s Monzie Square – the sale of second-hand and antiquarian books.

But now, after two decades as the only dealer in used books in the town, the shop set up by Ian and Pat Abernethy is turning its final page and closing.

It was originally opened partly to help free up space in the couple’s home, while furthering Ian’s love of books and helping sharing that passion with the great many others who have since come through its doors.

Many of the books that ended up on the shop’s shelves had been collected by Ian while he was working in London in the 1960s and 70s.

As a former professional journalist and writer who still contributes regularly to this newspaper, it is no surprise Ian developed a love of literature.

With its iconic sign above its front door, where the word ‘Corner’ had to form an actual corner as it was too long for the space – something since snapped by many visitors’ cameras – the shop has proved a magnet for people from around the world, as evidenced by the visitors’ comments book.

Speaking this week, Ian explained the shop is holding a number of discount days to sell off stock, while a number of books have been donated to various local groups.

And he laughingly told The Lochaber Times: ‘We will close the doors for the final time on October 31, which might mean we are a wee bit overshadowed by Brexit and Hallowe’en!

‘It’s been 20 years since we opened and it just seems like the right time to be standing down – from 2000 to 2020. Has a certain ring to it.’

Ian says probably the rarest book he sold was about 15 years ago when he had a first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Kidnapped.

Over the years he reckons they have sold 15,000 books and not one of them was given to the bookshop for free – Ian acquired them all.

Ian’s favourite writers are Nigel Tranter and Quiet Man author Maurice Walsh.

He added: ‘Once the shop closes, I might have more time for reading books rather than just selling them!’



Ian Abernethy, outside his bookshop with its famous sign, which will close at the end of next month. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.