Friday, September 05, 2008

Book Shops in the Borders

Today Mrs.H. and me had a holiday. Where did we go? The Borders of course, because as everyone knows a day out of the Borders is a day wasted.

There are two new book shops that have opened within striking distance of us and so it was important to visit them to see how they are doing and get a feel for what they have to offer. First we went to Kelso, which is a little over twenty miles from where we live. In actual fact our motives for going there were mixed, as we had to pick up oatmeal. The best Scottish oats that money can buy; it's from Hogarth's Mill which is slap bang in the middle of Kelso.

The new Kelso bookshop is called Latimer Books and it was a delight. Well designed, a great collection of books and an owner who was helpful, knowledgeable and just the perfect person to own a book shop. What I like about the shop is that unlike many other bookstores they are dedicated to selling just books – no cards, no CDs or DVDs, just books. Brilliant! Naturally I had to buy something. One was the biography of the architect Pugin and the other was ‘The Lodger’, a mystery, come novel, about Shakespeare.

From there it was a ten-mile drive across to St Boswells and the Main Street Trading Company. This is a bookshop and cafe combined that has been opened by a former director of Children's marketing for the publisher Bloomsbury. It couldn't be dissimilar from Latimer Books and it's a great bookshop, in a very different way, but just as appealing. It's much more spacious and it was very interesting to see that what they stocked was very unlike the selection at Latimers. Main Street’s advertising and web site say...."Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore" It's a quote by Henry Ward Beecher; of course they are right. Here I bought a book about the French Resistance called oddly enough ‘Resistance’. The cover and foreword (by William Boyd) are very enticing. I can't wait to finish what I'm currently reading (I biography of Oswald Mosley) to start on all three books.

So it was a day far from wasted….and I look forward to many more visits to both shops. This evening, sitting and looking at the books made me yet more sure that e-readers are in fact – b****cks! What's fantastic is that people who obviously love books want to maintain the tradition of great independent book shops where you get advice that is backed up by knowledge and love of what they do. Good luck to both shops, of course they'll need a little in this tricky times, but not too much I suspect as both are up there with the best.

6 comments:

David Farrer said...

"...a day out of the Borders is a day wasted."

My late grandfather used to say: "A day out of Annan was a day wasted."

Of course, he was the Provost of Annan...

r morris said...

For book lovers, things like kindle will never replace a book. It's larger, for one thing. For another, you have all the kinesthetic/haptic enjoyment of holding it in your hands, turning the pages, smelling that new-book (or old-book, as the case may be) small, and even the vicarious pleasure of seeing a favorite book in passing on your bookshelf. You are very lucky to have so many nice bookstores. We have a huge Barnes and Noble here, quite pleasant but still it's a chain. We also have a huge used-book store that has good selection. Both are doing great business, so the book is alive and well in Idaho as well.
Very interesting post. When I visited you, I bought a book in a store in that little village. That was a nice little store, too.

Selena Dreamy said...

Excellent use of the word "b****cks!

E-books are not books! They're a just a gimmick, icons of technological progress, an electronic turd which will soon have outlived its horrid attraction...

Richard Havers said...

I do my best....

Spot on with e-books Dreamy.

Rob, we went to the store in melrose so that makes three decent book shops within striking distance of us....like Idaho, you have to drive a long way in the Borders for most anything.

CherryPie said...

Nothing beats holding a real book in your hands!

Liz said...

I used to work for an independent bookseller. She retired last year after 25 years in business. I often wondered how she managed to make enough to keep going but the majority of her sales were orders. People knew they could come to the shop - which was very small - and order anything. For example 'a book I heard reviewed on the radio last week about a man who used to make wooden cats. I think his name began with a C. Or was it R?'