My spies tell me that the northern end of Capital on the Quay will indeed become a two-level Borders bookstore. According to a message sent to staff at nearby buildings, the construction work is due to be completed in February next year, but it might be a while after that before the shop actually opens.
It will take up 2000 square metres of floor space, and while that's about average for a Borders outlet, it's big by inner Wellington retail standards. At a rough guess, I'd say that's about twice the size of the nearby branch of Whitcoulls, and with any luck more of it will be taken up by actual books rather than DVDs and novelty wrapping paper. It's comparable to the ground floor of Kirkcaldie & Stains or the entire retail space of the Chews Lane precinct!
So, given my support for small independent shops, you'll be expecting me to rail against this invasion by a vast multinational. Actually, I'm not really against it. While I'm no fan of their aggressive anti-union stance, their use of spooky surveillance technology, their reputation for driving out independent booksellers or their Starbucks-like ubiquity, there's definitely something to be said for really big bookshops with big collections. As much as I love Unity, Dymocks or Parsons, I miss having a bookshop with more than a couple of shelves of architecture books. The last time I visited, the Auckland branch had a wider collection of contemporary American poetry than Unity's Auckland shop, despite the latter's reputation as the intellectuals' bookshop of choice. Not only that, they host regular poetry readings, so they're not quite the homogenous giant that they might seem.
So, I'm cautiously optimistic that Wellington's bookreading public is big and diverse enough to support this megastore without driving the independents out of business. Our local Dymocks (while it's a large Australian chain, our branch has developed its own character) has its unique focus on Weta collectables and advanced geekery; Unity specialises in gay and lesbian topics as well as supporting New Zealand literature; and Parsons has a strong following for its classical music offerings. If anyone has a right to feel threatened by Borders, it's Whitcoulls.