Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Back in the Borders # 1

Probably not many publishers turn up on the bus to flog their wares at bookshops, after an hour and a half country walk in the rain, but that was the quickest way from where I am on holiday to reach the exquisite bookshop in St Boswells in the Scottish Borders. As I trudged along I was needing it be a good shop, and it was, with an excellent in store cafe. The shop was started a couple of years ago by Rosamund and Bill de la Hay. Rosamund used to work for Bloomsbury, but opening a very large shop in a very small town that is not even on a train line must have seemed like madness to some people. The name, The Mainstreet Trading Company, suggests more than a bookshop, which is the case, but books are at the heart of the business. The stock is excellent with no concessions to that dreadful Tartan tourism which so many small Scottish indies find so attractive. Lots of hardbacks, lots of the books currently under review in the broadsheets, lots of face out on tables, lots and lots of children's books. To use the jargon, Mainstreet is a "destination bookshop". In fact the shop publicity brochure uses the phrase in case we don't get it. And the shop has become, according to Rosamund, a destination for people from Northumberland to Edinburgh and from across the Borders. Mainstreet is one of four bookshops in the Scottish Borders, of which more anon, three opening in the last few years, the fourth had a recent change of management. Having grown up in the Borders, this leaves me in a state of shock. 100% recommended. My own purchase was The Bookman's Tale by Ronald Blythe (Canterbury Press), two scones and two coffees. You'll find a few Five Leaves' books there soon too.

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