Borrby Bokby – in english, please!

The village Borrby in the south east area Österlen in Sweden fulfills all the expectations of a member of the International Book Towns Organization. According to a Book Town is defined as follows:

”A book town is a small village with a large number of second-hand or antiquarian book shops. These villages attract bibliophilic tourists to the book shops, and with literary festivals.”

We, the Borrby Book Town project have as a goal to extend the project to include the whole area of Österlen in a Land of Books, with Borrby as the center.

The Book Town concept was initiated by Richard Booth in Wales and was a success explained as follows: It offers an exemplary model of sustainable rural development and tourism. It is one of the most successful new tourism developments and is being followed in many countries.
Five”Book Towns” was gathered in an EU-project (UR 4001) and as a result the international organization International Organization of Book Towns (IOB) was created.

The organization has five goals:

  • raise public awareness of book towns and stimulate interest by giving information via internet and by organizing an International Book Town Festival every second year;
  • enhance the quality of book towns by exchanging knowledge, skills and know-how between the book towns and their individual book sellers and other businesses;
  • strengthen the rural economy by making propaganda for the existing book towns and by offering a medium (e-commerce) to the book sellers, by which they can offer their books to an universal public, also or specially in the quiet season (“winter economy”);
  • undertake other activities which can serve the interests of book towns and strengthen independent businesses in book towns, e.g. stimulating – the use of information technology;
  • help in these ways maintaining regional and national cultural heritage and to stimulate the international public to get acquainted with it.


The motivation to make the Swedish village Borrby a Book Town is that Borrby, that once was an important business village, will find new life and attract new visitors and customers by offering a totally new and exciting concept.
Many of the other Book Towns are interesting and beautiful places that further than its intriguing history also managed to create an attraction with books.
Borrby has as well an interesting history. Through the Work with ancient memorials of the Museum of Österlen, the Borrby history is now able to be presented to a larger public.

Also the Borrby official website, was helpful, collecting stories from people who remember what life was like “in the old days”. It was and is important to collect these stories from the last century before the people who experienced it are gone.

With this we understood that the village of Borrby would fit very well in the organization of Book Towns. The many empty and closed shops at the time in the village and the
passionate enthusiasm of two antiquarians created what was needed to start the whole project. Fortunately the Borrby Organization of Commerce was, from the very start, willing to support the project to activate the power of attraction in Borrby as a center of commerce.

Today we have five antiquarians deeply involved in the development of the project and the different networks. Through the Swedish Antiquary Organization even more antiquarians have shown interest in opening new shops, mostly extensions from their on other places around the country well established shops. We also have several second-hand bookshops, galleries, publishers, writhers, shops and B&B.

The initial idea came from the antiquarian Peter Bodén who owns an established antiquarian company in Stockholm where he has two shops. The third shop is in Borrby. You can read more about him on his website,

  • Peter Bodén has 20 years of experience in the field. He is a member of the Swedish Antiquarians Organization.
  • Peter runs an antiquary called Hundörat in the city of Strängnäs och Hundörat Rare Books in Stockholm.

The interest in old books is very big. Many people are looking for special books och specific book on certain topics. They want to compare between different sellers or to find a specific edition or a specific book. As a result, the internet shopping has developed immensely when it comes to used books, because of the possibilities of shopping in many antiquarian stores. But… to actually touch and feel and smell or to be able to search the shelves and feel the weight of a rare book is in spite of all this, still very important to many people.

Borrby, as well as the whole area of Österlen, is an attractive summer resort with plenty of sand beaches and cultural activities during a few weeks in summer (from mid-June to mid-August). But… the interest in books and writers is not bound to summer months. An autumn book festival when the darkness sets in, is definitely a more inspiring thought, when it comes to books, to many people.

Fifty years ago the village had thirty five shops. You could i.e. find three dairy shops and a couple of butcher stores and customers came from far to buy their clothes at Kristiansson´s. But these times are gone. As we all know, shopping habits are different and daily shopping has changed for good.

The Business Association of Borrby has more than 80 members today. There is a lots of different kind of business and some of them have hotels, B&B:s or different kinds of cafés or restaurants. A few have smaller shops in the village and others have had shops or have shops bigger than they need. Some of the earlier members have closed their businesses but they, or their heirs or new owners, use the facilities at the moment. It has been difficult to find new tenants to these facilities because there is a difficult economic situation for smaller businesses in general. People tend to do all the shopping in the bigger shopping centers instead. This is a truth that has been told many years by Investigation Institute of Commerce.

Everybody in the area are fully occupied during the attractive summer months but far from fully booked during the rest of the year. They, as well as other members of the Association, are depending on more customers/visitors than the actual inhabitants can offer. They are also working towards increasing the visiting numbers in the village during other times of the year.

With this project, the Borrby Book Town we are certain to attract more visitors and customers other periods than high season with events and festivals. We will also increase the interest of literature by cooperating with local schools, the municipality and different organizations in the area.

By organizing more events around literature and books we can also increase the interest for the local history and culture and through this increase the interest for history and culture in other parts of the world.

Together with other Book Towns we want to constitute a foundation for building an international network for books and literature. Networking is helped by the fact that most of the existing Book Towns are English speaking.

And… you can still find many empty shop facilities in Borrby, only waiting for interested antiquarians to move in…


Facts about the Borrby Book Town project as a Leader project.

The Borrby Book Town project started as a Leader Project in the summer of 2011. The Business Association of Borrby applied for and was granted economic support. Leader is a program in the EU, that concentrates on developing the countryside and the granted economic support was used to start the project according the plans of the board of LAG.

Gunnel Ottersten was and remain project leader and is in charge of advertising and organization. The project has rented new facilities for new and more specialized antiquaries, has also rented a meeting facility which also serve as a space for writing classes, lectures and discussion center. During the Leader time The Borrby Book Town also has organized a special book weekend every month throughout the whole year. It is a weekend when all antiquaries are open, specific events take place and a performance, lecture or discussion evening around books.

The national interest in these activities has grown. Swedish Television Network has visited with interviews and filming. Local and national newspapers have written several articles about the Borrby Book Town and we have many followers on our Facebook page.

Two summers have passed (2011-2012) and the interest in Borrby Book Town has grown even more. We have an interesting winter in front of us with lots of plans and activities.
Do you want to learn more about us and our activities please send us an email at


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There is no friend as loyal as a book.

Ernest Hemingway