Literary heritage app hailed as fillip for tourism

Allan MacDonald and Margot McCuaig are the brains behind purpleTrail's new app. Picture: Julie Bull
Allan MacDonald and Margot McCuaig are the brains behind purpleTrail's new app. Picture: Julie Bull
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A NEW mobile phone app putting Edinburgh’s rich literary heritage at people’s fingertips has been hailed as a novel tourism driving tool.

The Edinburgh Book Trail app is designed to help people explore the Unesco City of Literature and learn more about its writers, from Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns to Ian Rankin and JK Rowling.

The app features a total of 65 literary hotspots dotted throughout the Capital.

It combines pictures, video and information about key figures from the city’s literary scene, past and present, and is the result of more than a year’s work by Margot 
McCuaig and Allan MacDonald, the brains behind purpleTV – an independent production company that creates digital media content.

The Edinburgh Book Trail app is the first of a series of city adventure apps planned by the pair’s new digital brand, purpleTrails. And it guides users to both well-known and less familiar spots across the Capital which have crucial links to literary figures.

The launch comes just ahead of next month’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, which purpleTrails is sponsoring.

But Ms McCuaig stresses the app is there to be enjoyed all year round, not just when the world’s literary attention in focused on the Capital.

She said: “You don’t even need to be in Edinburgh to enjoy it, you can experience it anywhere in the world. We want people to be able to share Edinburgh’s literary heritage from wherever they are. It could be quite useful in drawing people to come and visit.”

The app can be used in different ways. It allows people to:

n Explore Edinburgh at their own pace – finding nearby attractions and making their own 
itinerary.

n Choose a trail – picking one of the app’s ready-made trails for a quick overview of Edinburgh’s literary spots.

n Be a detective – playing The Game Trail and helping the app’s writer, Pearl Litspur, find her lost manuscript among the streets of 
Edinburgh.

Users can also select tours by genre – crime, historical or children’s authors, for 
example.

Ms McCuaig said: “People might only be in Edinburgh for half a day and decide to follow one of the set tours and look at the others when they get home.”

The Edinburgh Book Trail app is available to download now and Ms McCuaig and Mr MacDonald are now planning to launch their next app, a Glasgow one focusing on sport ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, in 
January.

The hotly tipped Edinburgh app costs £5.99 and can be downloaded from the App Store.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com