Iolaire book signing success as demand soars

The Darkest Dawn author Malcolm Macdonald’s book signing event in Point was a great success, with the local shop having to rush out to get extra copies to keep up with demand.

The rush at Buth an Rubha for the books on the Iolaire tragedy came as it emerged that publishers Acair are looking at doing a third print run in January, due to demand.

Malcolm was signing books in Cafe Roo in the Old Knock School on Monday afternoon – an event organised by the cafe in partnership with Point and Sandwick Trust, which had sponsored the book by giving Acair £10,000 towards the additional costs of printing such a high-quality hardback.

The event had been publicised at the weekend, along with the information that there were still a few copies of the book available in the Buth an Rubha shop. And it ended up selling around 40 of the books on Monday alone, with staff having to go to Acair for additional copies after running out.

Malcolm, who co-authored the book with the late Donald John Macleod, has been somewhat overwhelmed by the interest in the book – he even had an interview request from Radio New Zealand – but was delighted to see so many in Cafe Roo for the signing.

“Considering the weather, I was astounded by the turnout and delighted. Surprised and delighted. I knew so many people.”

Malcolm, the Chair of Stornoway Historical Society, was struck by everyone’s reaction to it.

“They were all saying it was a wonderful book, ‘you must have worked for many years on it’ – words to that effect – and they were all saying that lots of the books were for Christmas presents. Relatives were saying, ‘if you’re going to buy me anything, buy me the Iolaire book for Christmas’.” 

The Darkest Dawn, the product of more than 20 years of research, was published on November 1 and Acair had to do a second print run just two weeks later, with a third now on the cards. 

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust is proud to be associated with The Darkest Dawn. Norman Mackenzie, Chair of Point and Sandwick Trust, said it had been “a really worthwhile project” and asked everybody at the signing to try to form an orderly queue…

Donald John MacSween, General Manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, was delighted Malcolm had been able to find the time to come to Point for the signing event, due to the number of requests he has had for interviews and personal appearances.

The community wind farm charity has been involved in a number of Iolaire-related events this year, including the Sandwick Hall Exhibition, the new Iolaire memorial sculpture and the tree planting at the Lewis War Memorial.

Malcolm now has speaking engagements lined up on the mainland from January up to August.

As for signing copies, he said: “I’m getting used to it. I just wish my name was Peter May or something shorter!”

Point and Sandwick Trust’s contribution towards The Darkest Dawn is part of its aim to boost ‘cultural wellbeing’ by investing in a variety of good causes in the community

Point and Sandwick Trust also invests in projects that help build social, educational and environmental wellbeing and has invested more than £1million in good causes with the profits from its Beinn Ghrideag wind farm since the turbines began generating power in late 2015. 

The wind farm charity now holds four awards – UK Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year, Scottish Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year, the Celebrating Communities Award from the Scottish Charity Awards and Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards.

• All pictures from the signing by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos.