Whilst in general I’m not the greatest fan of all things American, I do like the way their book stores work. At first glance an out-of-town retail park might not seem to be the most suitable place for a book store, but it works really well. When I found myself in San Jose for six weeks a few years ago (writing an IBM redbook) I spent quite a lot of time in the Borders store down the road from my apartment. The combination of browsing, drinking coffee and reading, with no time pressures, meant you could really relax and enjoy the book/magazine/music buying process.
More recently, when travelling up to Watford on a midweek evening for football, I often pop into the Watford branch of Borders if I have some time to kill. Especially so with my new found photography hobby as I just pick up a book from that section that catches the eye and grab a coffee. I guess Borders kind of becomes a contemporary type of library except you end up buying the book if you like it.
All this means I was particularly happy when I drove past the West Quay retail park in Southampton on Friday to find that a new branch of Borders had opened (by chance that same day.) This had slipped under my radar completely, and actually caused more excitement than the more obvious Apple Store that’s soon due to open in the West Quay shopping centre. Lana and I popped in on Saturday to have a look at the store, and it is huge. Set over two floors it has the usual comprehensive magazine section along with music and books. The photography section was less impressive than the Watford one, as it was split across two sets of shelves and didn’t seem to carry as many titles. Nevertheless I grabbed a copy of The Photographers Guide to Filters by Lee Frost to browse over whilst taking a coffee in the obligatory Starbucks. Lana was happy to find the magazine section included a number of US imports including one she discovered and liked during our trip to New York at the start of the year.
One obvious advantage of being located in the retail park as opposed to town is the availability of parking (though not at this time of year on a Saturday afternoon) and the opening hours (9am – 10pm Mon to Saturday and 11am-5pm Sundays) I can envisage spending the odd couple of hours in there every now and then!