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Visit Sedbergh in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Visit Sedbergh 

Sedbergh, England's Book Town

The Dales & Lakes Book Centre

What is a Book Town?

Well, it's a town, usually small and usually rural, which has brought together a number of bookshops and other businesses based on writing, reading, publishing and so on. In practice many of the shops will concentrate on selling second-hand books. There are thousands of book enthusiasts whose great joy is to find an out-of-print volume to add to their collections; for them a Book Town is a treasure chest just waiting to be opened. Book Towns have spread around the world from the first one, which was founded by Hay-on-Wye bookdealer Richard Booth in 1961. There are now over twenty towns throughout the World describing themselves as Book Towns or Book Villages.

The Sedbergh booktown project was started after the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in order to encourage an increase in the number of visitors, whose enjoyment of the beautiful countryside around Sedbergh supports the functioning of vital town centre amenities. The company, Sedbergh Book Town, was set up in 2003 to develop a community of businesses involved in selling, writing, publishing and designing books and other publications. Sedbergh started with an excellent base to build upon as a Booktown, with a printer's finisher (book maker), writers and several book selling businesses already based in the town. Since then more bookshops have opened and, in May 2006, Sedbergh was officially recognised as England's Booktown when it was elected into the International Organisation of Book Towns. There are now three official Booktowns in the United Kingdom, Hay-on-Wye (where it all started) in Wales, Wigtown in Scotland and Sedbergh in England.

Members of the International Organisation of Booktowns from around the world co-operate with each-other and meet every 2 years for a celebration of everything to do with books, writing and reading.

Portrait of Eric Robson

Eric Robson, writer, broadcaster and patron.

“First, a confession: I spend far too much on books. Which is why this idea of creating a Book Town in Sedbergh is a thoroughly bad idea. Until now my nearest Book Towns were Hay-on-Wye and Wigtown which meant my obsessions were held in check by sheer distance. Now it's going to be far too easy. I can already hear my bank manager turning in his vault. I won't be able to resist. And there are thousands of other bibliophiles holding their heads in their hands as we speak. ‘Not Sedbergh!’ I hear them cry just before they get into their car and are drawn slowly but surely towards the Howgills.”

Book Dealers

Details of book dealers in and near Sedbergh can be found on the Sedbergh book dealers web page.

Sedbergh Book Town Literary Trust

The Sedbergh Book Town Literary Trust has been created as a Charity - Reg. No. 1115782. For further information about the Book Town Literary Trust please email