Borders book shops

Categories: Live | Visit

Forrest Book Store (image courtesy of Claudia Massie)Celebrate the glory of Border bookshops! We explore the unique and diverse wonders you can buy in the Borders so you can discover the surprises around you, and help our shopkeepers survive the recession.  Never has it been more vital we shop in the Borders, and spend what little money we have to help local businesses.   

Books carry the best we’ve thought and said, perhaps a story to escape into, or a study of any subject taking your interest.  A good book is pure pleasure, and a good bookshop is a mine of gems.  The Borders is lucky to host a rich range of characterful independent bookshops, from the eclectic Crossing The Bar in Eyemouth Market Place, to Linton Books in West Linton, as well as the Borders Book Festival which starts on Thursday, 17 June in Melrose.

In Selkirk Courthouse, beside the giant literary figure of Sir Walter Scott, sits the calm, thoughtful Forest Bookstore, run by art historian Dr Allan Harkness, often as a gallery for local artists too.  “The books here are a cultural stimulus,” he says; “the small independent bookshop is part of literary culture and active community life.  People meet here, and engage in discussion.”  Allan also helpfully remembers the books I’ve given my mother.

Kelso’s elegant Latimer Books on Mill Wynd hosts author events, and owners Norman and Jane, like all great local booksellers, can find you any book you want.  In Masons of Melrose, “every book is a different title,” says Fiona Forster; “we’ve one copy of everything, so we squash in as much as possible.”  Melrose also has an excellent second-hand bookshop on Dingleton Road, but your choice of those doesn’t end there.

Main St Trading (image courtesy of Boswells’ Main Street Trading Company diversifies into books, gifts, antiques and a café serving the best Border foods.  Owners Bill and Rosamund de la Hey foster a family ethos, winning Children’s Independent Bookseller this year.  “It’s the most important department,” argues Rosamund: “ if you don’t get children reading, how are you going to develop the next generation of adult readers?”

In Hawick, the convivial Damascus Drum café and bookshop on Silver Street serves Turkish coffee and mezze while you browse. Last Century Books, on Innerleithen High Street, is a warren of antiques and 12,000 second-hand books.  “You never know what you might find,” says co-owner Gill Miller; “we’re a readers’ market – the average cost is £2-3 per book.”

Found it at last (image courtesy of on the Stichill to Nenthorn road, in a barn on the tranquil Newton Don estate, are four homely reading rooms stacked with 15,000 second-hand books – called (rightly) Found It At Last.  From here Steve James also runs, and a children’s bookshop next door, The Cobby Shop.  “It’s a feat of accomplishment for those who find us,” he says; “we appeal to the collector, who can browse with the shop to themselves as long as they like.” 

Every independent shop is as unique and original as its creator and the community it serves.  Each shopkeeper brings an individual story, love and mastery – they know what you want, and even what you don’t know you want.  Moreover, they’re a personality to talk to.  Independent shops give you the unusual, not the ordinary.  Help keep the Borders interesting, for us, and as an attractive destination for visitors, to achieve this we need to keep independent shops thriving and prospering in the area.

Keeping money in the local economy benefits us all.  Local independents employ local people, lets buy more from local suppliers, use less fuel, and  help the environment to prosper.  The more money we spend in the Borders, the more local jobs we create, and the more local entrepreneurs we inspire.  Let’s help the Borders to grow, shop local….. Happy exploring.