Bookseller Borders is allowing customers access to the beta version of its soon-to-be-launched replacement web site.

Visitors to the site are offered the choice of providing personal details and entering the beta version of the new site or proceeding to the existing site as normal.

The customer details captured will no doubt be added to the 750,000 e-mail addresses Borders holds in its customer database already.

Borders did not want to comment on the new site while beta testing is taking place. However, the beta version shows that Borders is following through with the promises it made to introduce innovative search, navigation and merchandising.

The search tool has an auto-complete facility, which brings up suggestions as a customer is typing, whether they type in a book title, author or a book’s identifying ISBN code. This facility can be turned off by customers who prefer not to use it.

As visitors browse categories and relevant subcategories, they can bring up a synopsis of any book in a small window by clicking on the product image.

The retailer has also created “Borders’ spookily accurate book suggestor”, which comes up with a list of other products a customer might like on each product page. The suggestor tool can be used independently as well. Customers are asked to enter the name of a favourite book and the tool comes up with other products they might like.

The site has also introduced reviews and blogs. Customers are invited to write reviews of particular products and blogs on relevant topics.

The retailer is expanding on its Borders TV concept, which allows customers to view short video clips of interviews with authors. The beta version of the site allows customers to upload their own video reviews.

Borders is encouraging users of the beta site to give feedback prior to the main launch.