James Thin

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The former premises of James Thin, now Blackwells Bookshop, South Bridge Edinburgh

James Thin was a Scottish bookseller, stationer and publishing company.

It was, until 2002, the principal academic bookshop in Edinburgh, with its main premises near the University of Edinburgh on Infirmary Street. It also had branches in other cities, including Perth, Dundee, and Inverness.

The firm was founded by James Thin (1824–1915), taking over the assets of an earlier bookseller. The business grew and expanded, and brought James Thin a significant role in Edinburgh intellectual society. The author Muriel Spark wrote all her novels on 72-page notebooks from James Thin.[1]

In 1870, James Thin purchased a plot of land in Stow of Wedale in the Scottish Borders and had a house built which was completed in 1873. The house was named Ashlea, and is still a private residence but is no longer owned by the Thin family.

The firm developed branches in George Street, The Gyle, Waverley Centre, Buccleuch Street and Edinburgh University’s King’s Buildings, Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, and Queen Margaret University, as well as the St. Andrews University Students’ Association, Crichton College in Dumfries and University of Huddersfield, and also school bookshops at Fettes College, Merchiston Castle School and Edinburgh Academy.

In January 2002 the business went into administration. The company’s general bookstores were sold in March 2002 to another chain, Ottakar’s. In April 2002 the publishing division Mercat Press was bought out by its management, and the rest of the business sold to Blackwell’s of Oxford, who now operate the former flagship branch on Edinburgh’s South Bridge.

The accounts, administrative and staff records of the firm are deposited in the National Library of Scotland (Acc. 12384).[2]


  1. ^ New York Times article on Muriel Spark
  2. ^ National Library of Scotland, Manuscript News