One Book – One Edinburgh: Kidnapped

On 1st February 2007, I was standing between Edinburgh’s Scott Monument and Waverley Station, giving away thousands of copies of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Kidnapped. The event kicked off a high-profile, month-long campaign to raise the profile of reading in Scotland, and to celebrate Edinburgh’s literary heritage.

Campaign Overview

Run as part of my work for Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, the campaign gave away 25,000 free copies, with 1,400 people attending 71 events in the public, schools and outreach programmes.

Six editions of Kidnapped were created in partnership with four Scottish publishers – a classic novel, a quick read and four specially commissioned graphic novels, in English, Scots, Gaelic and a modern, plain text for emerging readers.

The Times singled out the Kidnapped graphic novel for a special mention on the Books for Boys list.

Kidnapped held three positions in the Scottish Top 10 Bestseller list, and was serialised in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Profile and prominence – we achieved 200 press articles across 22 publications, with a ciculation of over 3 million. The campaign had two cover features, a BBC Radio 4 feature and BBC and STV news broadcasts, reaching a television audience of over 1.3 million.

This campaign will have worked if even one new reader comes to Stevenson – whether they find him in the graphic novel version, the Scots or the modern English. – Ian Rankin, Writer & Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trustee


The proportion of the less affluent groups was higher than usually expected when profiling audiences for cultural events and activities. – The Audience Business

Motion passed in the Scottish Parliament congratulating Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature staff on the campaign.

“The most successful free offer we have ever run.” – The Big Issue in Scotland

“It is wonderful that one book can bring the city together to read.”- Lord Provost Lesley Hinds

What Happened Next?

Two years in the making, One Book – One Edinburgh: Kidnapped was a resounding success, and it was assumed that the campaign would run again in 2008. With just six months to pull together partners, a project and a publication, One Book – One Edinburgh: Jekyll & Hyde was born.


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