From this Saturday (1 September) and throughout the month of September, visitors to the headquarters of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) in Aberlady can take advantage of 50% off all second hand books.

The collection ranges from bird identification guides for the UK and overseas, handbooks of particular species or bird group, studies of bird behaviour and migration, and a host of other natural history publications. Collectable items include a selection of New Naturalist and Poyser titles in very good condition.

The Club’s history as a book trader stretches back to 1961 when it started selling new ornithological titles from the SOC’s original headquarters in Regent Terrace, Edinburgh. At that time, it was almost certainly the only specialist bird bookshop in Europe and probably the world. George Waterston (one of the founders of the SOC) and his wife, Irene, were the driving force at that time as they had built up so many contacts around the world. Eventually, whilst still at Regent Terrace, the Club sold all the new book stock and goodwill to St Anne’s Books as the organisation couldn’t afford to finance the required holding of stock and by then there were many other specialist bird book dealers. It was many years later that second hand books were sold in any quantity and the Club’s re-location to Aberlady can really be considered the start.

The majority of the books in the SOC shop are duplicates from the SOC’s extensive library (also housed at Aberlady). Any donations and bequests are used to augment or fill any gaps in the library first, with any duplicates or titles outwith the scope of the collection put out for general sale in the shop.

Susan Horne, SOC Librarian explained the reason for the sale: ‘As with many high street retailers these days, it is increasingly difficult to compete with online retailers. Where we are situated is very picturesque but there isn’t the level of footfall to keep up with the generous donations of books that we receive from our members and the general public. We really value these donations but we also have limited storage space. We hope that by having a big sale like this, the benefits will be many-fold: We’ll shift some stock, raise some funds and create a bit of a buzz among local natural history enthusiasts; there’s already some excitement among Club members who are keen to get along to the sale and pick up a bargain!

“At the end of the day, all money from sales of the books goes directly to the charity so it’s a win-win situation; the SOC has an educational remit so the more bird literature there is out in the community, the better. It’s not all about raising funds; raising awareness is equally important”.

The sale runs from Saturday 1st to Sunday 30th September, open daily 10am-4pm, Waterston House, Aberlady.