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March 19, 2013

Dale: Booksellers have publishers ‘over a barrel’

Iain Dale

Iain Dale

Publisher and former Conservative Party politician Iain Dale has hit out at the big booksellers, including W H Smith, Waterstones and Amazon, saying they have publishers “over a barrel”. Speaking at the Independent Publishers Guild conference this morning (7th March) Dale also repeated a call he made ten years ago to abolish “sale or return”.

Dale, founder of the political publisher Biteback Publishing, reserved his harshest criticism for W H Smith, which he said was “very willing to take publishers’ money and sell no books in return”.

He added: “Whenever I have done business with W H Smith they demand a large “marketing fee”—some might call it the book trade industry of protection money— to place our books in their stores.

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February 18, 2013

Shortlists revealed for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

Wonder | By Charlotte Williams

Random House Children’s Books, Egmont and Little Tiger Press have each picked up two nominations across the three categories of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, with the shortlists for the £5,000 prize revealed today.

Among the nominated titles in the 5-12 category is The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise (Puffin), a debut novel written by Geoff Rodkey who wrote for MTV’s animated series “Beavis and Butt-head”. The book will be competing against titles including Wonder by R J Palacio (Random House Children’s Books), Barry Loser: I am Not a Loser by Jim Smith (Egmont) and The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (Chicken House).

In the teen category, the second novel by Branford Boase Award-winning Annabel Pitcher, Ketchup Clouds, is up against titles including Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt (Egmont) and Insignia by S J Kincaid (Hot Key Books).

In the picture books category, Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher (Little Tiger Press) will be battling against books including Oh No George! by Chris Haughton (Walker) and Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books).

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October 31, 2012

Binet debut on Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist

 | By Lisa Campbell

A debut novel translated from French is among the six titles shortlisted for the inaugural Waterstones Book of the Year.

Laurent Binet’s HHhH, published in translation by Harvill Secker, is one of only two novels included on the shortlist, announced today (30th October). Also shortlisted is the Man Booker Prize-winning Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate).

The remaining titles are all non-fiction: Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper (John Murray); The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton); On The Map: Why The World Looks The Way It Does by Simon Garfield (Profile Books); and Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman (Bloomsbury Publishing).

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September 16, 2012

High street bookshops must offer e-books, industry chief warns

All bookshops must start selling electronic ‘e-books’ by the autumn if they are to ensure their long-term survival, a leading trade body has warned.

By James Hall

Tim Godfray, the chief executive of The Booksellers Association (BA), said that high street bookshops risk being “marginalised” by shoppers if they do not start selling downloadable books as well as physical books.

He said that the massive popularity of e-reading devices such as the Kindle has already turned shops into “showrooms”, where people browse the shelves before going home to buy a book off the internet.

Writing in The Bookseller magazine, Mr Godfray said he is “deeply concerned” that customers will simply stop using bookshops if they are not at least given the option to buy e-books in them.

Large chains such as Waterstone’s have already started to sell e-books. In the spring the chain announced a tie-up with Kindle-owner Amazon to allow customers to buy e-books from special wireless internet areas in its shops.

Mr Godfray said that independent bookshops must follow the lead of chains like Waterstone’s.

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July 23, 2012

How We Lost Bookshops Thanks to Amazon and Publishers

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:23 pm

Why does Amazon rule supreme in book sales? Bookseller Tim Waterstone recounts the story of how his eponymous chain was ruined by a short-term business mindset and publishers giving in to the internet behemoth.

The tragedy for Waterstones under  HMV’s ownership and underinvestment, was that our most precious possession—the loyalty and affection of our customers—fast eroded as the quality of the bookshops deteriorated.  It was not just their physical appearance, dire as many of them became, but the quality and expertise of the inventory, the lifeblood of what Waterstones  was always about.

Research had shown for years that we were catering for a consumer market of barely twenty per cent of the population. What HMV found impossible to understand was how we—the managers—knew these numbers, and yet accepted them. More than accepted them—embraced them. We knew that the one person in five who used our stores trusted and loved them. Successive Readers Digest surveys of the time, taken across a huge sample of 14,500 British families, ranked Waterstones as the fourth (out of more than eighty nominated) most admired retail group in the country, beaten by only the cherished Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, and Waitrose. For a bookseller, it was astonishing stuff. The key to it all was this; that the 20% of the population were heavy, committed book buyers. They purchased at least fifty books a year, and with Waterstones now across the country, they bought them from us. We fitted the profile of what they wanted a “real” bookshop to be. Rocket science it wasn’t. Effective retailing it was.

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January 21, 2012

Women writers dominate Waterstones 11 list

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:30 am

Eowyn Ivey

By Charlotte Williams

Eight female novelists have made the Waterstones 11 2012 selection, with three novels each from the Random House and Hachette stables among the line-up for the second year of the promotion for debuts.

HarperCollins has two novels on the list, with one each from Simon & Schuster, Atlantic and Pan Macmillan. The novels were chosen by a Waterstones selection committee- chaired by publisher liaison manager Janine Cook -from nearly 100 publisher submissions, with the promotion free of charge to enter and take part in.

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January 17, 2012

Waterstones launches ‘book club’ promotion

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:08 am

|By Charlotte Williams

Waterstones has launched a “book club” promotion, with the strapline: “Books you will love or your money back”.

Twelve titles are being featured, all bar one fiction, with one chosen each week as the “book of the week”. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury) is currently in the highlighted spot.

The remaining titles are: The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg (Faber); Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson (Transworld); The London Train by Tessa Hadley (Vintage); Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (Faber);The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (Granta); Pure by Andrew Miller (Sceptre); Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Sceptre); Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams (Viking); We Had it So Good by Linda Grant (Virago); The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed (Penguin); and My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young (Harper)

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January 13, 2012

Media reacts to Waterstones’ logo change

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:51 am


The chairman of the Apostrophe Society has called Waterstones’ dropping of its apostrophe “just plain wrong”, as the national press reacted to the change.

The move was reported in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme this morning (12th January), with Apostrophe Society chairman John Richards reported as saying: “It’s just plain wrong. It’s gramatically incorrect. If Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s can get it right, then why can’t Waterstones? You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.”

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December 30, 2011

Shelf life in hard times: The book folk who wrote glorious chapters in 2011

From digital wizards to library champions…

By Liz Thomson

James Daunt

Think long-term. That’s one of the mantras of the man who left JP Morgan to launch a business that combined his twin passions, travel and reading. It was 1990, Britain was in a recession but, within five years, Daunt Books had turned over its first million. Now, 21 years later, with five much-admired shops doing nicely, James Daunt has accepted the challenge of turning around Waterstone’s, bought for £53m from HMV by a Russian billionaire who was a regular at Daunts Holland Park.

It’s assumed that Alexander Mamut is also thinking long-term, for there’s much for Daunt to do as new MD at the beleaguered 330-store chain. In private hands, Waterstone’s is no longer required to issue trading statements so evidence about Christmas performance will be anecdotal. With Ottakar’s gone (bought by HMV and absorbed into Waterstone’s before it went into freefall) and Borders bankrupt, Waterstone’s is Britain’s only dedicated bookselling chain.

So much rests on Daunt’s shoulders. In 2012, we can expect to see him launch a full digital offer, including an e-reader – probably a version of the Nook, a success for Barnes & Noble in the US. It’s also likely we’ll see store closures, though Daunt will aim to minimise them. But there are too many branches, many in locales that don’t work. However, the reinvention of Waterstone’s has already begun: gone are three-for-twos, the crass advertising, the one-size-fits-all promotions. Homogeneity is out, individuality in, as trust and autonomy are returned to branch managers. If all goes well, by this time next year, Waterstone’s should be as exciting and intoxicating as it was in its 1980s heyday.

Faber & Faber

While it’s no longer possible to love the House of Eliot unconditionally – the music, film and drama lists are all much diminished – Faber is still a beacon among publishers, as much for what it has become (the flagship of the independent publishing community) as for what it publishes. Stephen Page, who took the helm a decade ago, has charted a careful course in difficult weather, not rushing headlong into digital but awaiting the right device, the right partner, the right project – see Touch Press. He has chosen well.

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November 14, 2011

Flagship London branch of Waterstone’s to mark World AIDS Day with landmark quilt display

A central-London branch of book shop Waterstone’s will become the first retailer to display the iconic UK AIDS quilt as part of its support for World AIDS Day 2011.

By Peter Lloyd

A central-London branch of book shop Waterstone’s will become the first retailer to display the iconic UK AIDS quilt as part of its support for World AIDS Day 2011.

The bookshop, situated on Gower Street, will also support five major HIV/AIDS related UK charities throughout the week, allowing one charity per day to highlight their work within the HIV/AIDS community, with volunteers on hand for advice and to share information with the public.

Waterstones has been given the right to display a panel from the UK AIDS Quilt loaned by George House Trust in Manchester. It is the first retailer to have ever been given this privilege as it is one historically reserved for galleries, museums and national institutions.

There will be a visitors’ book for those wishing to show support for World AIDS Day.

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