James Daunt discussing how bad is Waterstone’s

Yes entire chain, no display at all, no mention of it anywhere in shop, really crap, think Waterstone’s need more business acumen. — Pandora

Hi Keith – we are very much aware that Paulo Coelho is one of the world’s bestselling authors – we’d love to do some work with him. — Waterstone’s

It was a breath of fresh air listening to James Daunt lunchtime today on BBC You and Yours talking about how bad is Waterstone’s.

Buy two get one free is to go. Far better is to offer the books on offer at one-third off.

Staff in bookshops to have greater autonomy. We used to have a chain where this was true. It was called Ottaker’s. Waterstone’s bought Ottaker’s, then destroyed Ottaker’s.

Waterstone’s does not compete with independent bookshops. This is true, but only because Waterstone’s has destroyed our independent bookshops.

It was brought home to me last month just how bad is Waterstone’s when I saw they had no mention of a new release, Aleph by Paulo Coelho. When I querried this I was told Paulo Coelho not well known or not popular. I thought maybe this was unique to Waterstone’s Guildford, but sadly I found it not true, the problem was widespread. [see Paulo Coelho unknown author]

Nor did Waterstone’s make up for lost ground once Aleph published. I expected to see window displays, displays in store. Nothing! [see Paulo Coelho in Waterstone’s and the author the publisher forgot]

It is perverse. An international best-seller, and yet Waterstone’s make no attempt to display either in their windows or in store.

A week on from publication, Waterstone’s had sold 431 copies of Aleph. Assuming 300 bookshops, that is less than one and a half copies per bookshop.

Waterstone’s made no mention on twitter of James Daunt on You and Yours!

Today I bumped into a friend who I had not seen since Guildford Book Festival last year. She used to work in a bookshop. She found it unbelievable my experience in Waterstone’s. But they work in a bookshop, how can they not know a writer like Paulo Coelho, that he has a new book out? The small bookshop she used to work at would have had Aleph on display in the window and sold dozens in the first week.

Another friend who I bumped into earlier in the day was also very surprised.

Top story Book Beat (Friday 9 September 2011).

James Daunt of Waterstones
James Daunt of Waterstones 2

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2 Responses to “James Daunt discussing how bad is Waterstone’s”

  1. marie-christine Says:

    I went to Sauramps the other day and I got the Agenda ‘Moments’ by Paulo Coelho, I then asked whether they had ‘Aleph’ in English or in Spanish, the woman looked and said no they did not. However, she told me without me even asking that the ‘Aleph’ will be available in French in October..I was impressed.

  2. keithpp Says:

    Yes, Marie-Christine, I would hope the service in France is better than we get from Waterstone’s, it would be pretty bad otherwise.

    James Daunt was at least open and honest at how bad the service is from Waterstone’s and the need for reform. Maybe we should be his advisors!

    In Puerto de la Cruz, an old colonial town on the north coast of Tenerife, a lovely shop off Plaza Charco called Soluciones. A bigger selection of books by Paulo Coelho than I have ever seen in Waterstone’s and they also had A Warrior’s Life by Fernando Morais, plus they knew Paulo Coelho.

    This was also true of the little bookshops.

    In Istanbul, all the bookshops had Elif on display. They knew the book, knew the author.

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