A KELSO bookseller is blaming the recession for the decision to close shop later this summer.
Husband and wife team Norman and Jane Latimer opened Latimer Books in the town’s Mill Wynd three-and-a-half years ago.
The only independent bookshop within an 18-mile radius, the business has failed to make any profit since March and Mr and Mrs Latimer say they have no choice but to close down at the end of next month.
“The shop has been very well supported by local people, from both Kelso and the surrounding area, but I’m afraid the recession has hit book-buying very badly,” Mr Latimer explained.
Mrs Latimer says she is often stopped by people in Kelso, who tell her they can no longer afford to buy books and are using the local library much more.
She told us: “People just don’t have the money to spend on books. A book is a discretionary item and at a time when people are losing their jobs or worrying about their pensions, they are just worried about spending the money.”
While Mr Latimer blames the recession for the enforced closure, his wife believes that the age of the electronic book is also hitting the book trade.
“When you’re going on holiday and you are only allowed to take so much stuff with you, something like a Kindle lets you take plenty of books in electronic format rather than lugging half-a-dozen printed ones,” she told us.
The couple plan to have a sale before the shop finally closes its doors for the last time at the end of August. Mrs Latimer says that after the couple were forced to sell their hotel on Mull, the thought of lugging their vast personal collection of thousands of books around again was not appealing.
She revealed: “So the idea of a bookshop was very attractive. After I had my riding accident, when there were worries I might not walk again, we needed to find something to do which did not involve me being on my feet all day.
“Although I don’t work in the shop any longer, it was something we both were really passionate about doing.
“We had gone to Italy for seven months after the sale of the hotel to give ourselves some time to figure out what we wanted to do.”
The couple, who are currently in the process of building a new house at Bonchester Bridge, say they have no plans to leave the Borders, despite the closure of their business.
Mr Latimer said: “We very much enjoy living in the Borders and have no plans to leave the area. I don’t know what we’ll do next, but it won’t be a hotel and it won’t be a bookshop.”
Ross Bradshaw, posting on the website, The Bookseller.com, said he was sorry to read about Latimer’s closing.
“It was a nice shop, with books well displayed and a good range of stock. That the closure notice mentions public service cuts and fear of redundancy among staff is no surprise given how much local economies often depend on the public sector.
“Cuts don’t just hurt those cut,” he said.