Posts Tagged ‘Waterstone’s’

Waterstone’s the J D Wetherspoon of the book trade

March 22, 2020

Boss of J D Wetherspoon Tim Martin was more than happy to put staff and clientele at risk by forcing sick staff into work under threat of no sick pay.

The same irresponsible attitude, encouraging going to the pub, failure to heed advice on social distancing.

Waterstone’s are showing the same contempt for staff and customers during coronavirus crisis. No ban on cash, no hand sanitiser, no social distancing. Office staff sent home, staff in book shops forced to carry on working.

Waterstone’s where greed rules ok. There should be hand sanitiser by the door, everyone walking in required to use. Contactless card only. Close early at three every day. This was the norm in Sheffield last week.

Contrast last week with Steam Yard coffee shop in Sheffield. Hand sanitiser by the door, close at three.

Or contrast with fish n chip restaurant Elite on the Bail, restaurant closed takeaway at the back, social distancing, hand sanitiser on offer to use.

Waterstone’s destroyed Ottakar’s. I had hoped James Daunt may improve, but no. Still the rubbish dumped by publishers piled on tables, staff treated badly.

Why is it always the big corporate chains that treat their staff badly?

Indie coffee shops as always leading the way. Coffee served in takeaway cups, no reusable cups, hand sanitiser by the door.

Talking to an employee of 200 Degrees a small coffee shop chain before they were forced to close, she said refusal to put hand sanitiser by the door, no interest in health and safety of staff or customers.

When the ban on pubs, bars, coffee shops came in, I walked down Lincoln High Street, indie coffee shops closed, Caffe Nero and Starbucks open.

Use contactless card. I prefer cash, cash is anonymous, cards are traced and tracked, inflate profits of banks, but these are not normal times, cash is dirty. Similarly, good coffee is to be appreciated, sit and relax with coffee served in ceramic or glass, but not normal times, takeaway protects staff and customers, minimises contamination.

Support your local indie bookshop

  • P&G Wells – Winchester
  • Lindum Books – Lincoln
  • Blue Bear Bookshop – Farnham
  • Ideas on Paper – Nottingham

and indie coffee shops

  • Marmadukes – Sheffield
  • Steam Yard – Sheffield
  • The Specialty Coffee Shop – Nottingham
  • Cartwheel Coffee – Nottingham
  • Outpost Coffee – Nottingham
  • Madame Waffle – Lincoln
  • Coffee Aroma – Lincoln
  • Krema – Farnham and Guildford
  • Coffee Lab – Winchester

By no means an exhaustive list.

Tuesday of last week, UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain, with one big difference, Italy and Spain already had measures in place before they introduced ever tighter measures. In UK, too little, too late.

If you wish for something to read, stuck at home, read an e-book.

Paulo Coelho has made available several of his books for free download.

Something other writers and filmmakers could do.

Mark Thomas has made available for almost free download one of his shows (he asks make a donation to a food bank).

When Primark, McDonald’s announced they are closing, we know it is game up.

Waterstone’s announced they were closing. But will staff get paid. Staff who were off sick, suspected covid-19, told to take out of their annual leave.

James Daunt the Tim Martin of the book trade. Shops closed but more likely no one on the streets, no one buying books, shops losing money, than consideration for the well being of staff and customers. Plus with shops closed staff on furlough government will pay 80% of their salary

But what does this say of Pepsi Trump? China gave us time, we squandered it. Tuesday of last week UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain. With one big difference, both countries had measures in place, and have since tightened those measures. It was sporting bodies which decided to close, led the way. Now it is shops closing, taking the initiative. Still no lockdown of London. Bars and pubs serving drinks.

Waterstone’s Alton: Paulo Coelho’s latest book

September 6, 2014


If Paulo Coelho’s latest book was on display, I could not see. I asked at the counter.

They did not know, and I was asked for the title.


I was taken to where it was spine showing not cover, with new titles.

They said they had sold a few. I would assume, people in the know, as not on prominent display.

I would have expected a bookshop to know of an international best seller from an international best selling author, but they did not.

Last Sunday, Adultery entered the New York Time’s best seller list at No2. The Alchemist was at No2 in the charts for paperbacks. Sunday, Paulo Coelho is a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday.

Waterstone’s Winchester: Paulo Coelho’s latest book

August 27, 2014
Adultery Why is Love is more important than Faith?

Adultery Why is Love more important than Faith?

Would Waterstone’s Winchester have Paulo Coelho’s latest book, would it be on prominent display?

I looked where latest hardbacks were on display. I could not see Adultery.

I asked at the counter. A helpful man, he said yes, we do have, Paulo Coelho books are upstairs, but should be here with latest releases.

We looked, and I spotted before he did. Three, maybe four copies.

I asked was it selling.

He said yes, slowly slowly.

Waterstone’s Camberley: Paulo Coelho’s latest book

August 19, 2014
Adultery international best seller

Adultery international best seller

Would Waterstone’s Camberley have Paulo Coelho’s latest book?

I looked, I could not find, not with latest releases, not with his other books.

I asked a young lady tidying the shelves.

Manuscript Found in Accra, she exclaimed.

A good start, she at least knew the author.

There is a later book, published last week, Adultery.

She looked it up.

Yes, we have.

Where, I could not find?

It has not been unboxed. We have two. Had one, we sold it.

Adultery, published last week, an international best-seller from an international best selling author, Waterstone’s had one, sold it, two more ordered, but no one bothers to put on the shelves, let alone on display.

If you have an international best-seller, do you not have it on prominent display?

Three Paulo Coelho books on display in Waterstone’s

April 11, 2014
Waterstone's Guildford Paulo Coelho books

Waterstone’s Guildford Paulo Coelho books

Paulo Coelho quote on display table

Paulo Coelho quote on display table

Wonders will never cease. Three Paulo Coelho books on display in Waterstone’s.

Not only that, the heading on the display table, a quote from Paulo Coelho: It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting ….

The real test will come when Adultery is published in August (currently in Portuguese only, Adultério). Will Waterstone’s have on promnent display? So far something they have failed with his last few publications.

Paulo Coelho on display in Waterstone’s

January 17, 2014
Paulo Coelho Waterstone's

Paulo Coelho Waterstone’s

Wonders will never cease, Paulo Coelho on display in Waterstone’s!

I thought it very strange, Waterstone’s Guildford, not a single copy of Manuscript Found in Accra on the shelves with other books by Paulo Coelho. I was about to raise with the staff, when my eye was caught by a table top display.

Note: Cross the High Street, and Manuscript Found in Accra in WHSmith at half price, offer ends Wednesday.

Manuscript Found in Accra, set in Jerusalem on the eve of the attack by the Crusaders, is the latest from Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho books found on display in Waterstone’s

May 30, 2013
book display  Waterstone's Godalming

book display Waterstone’s Godalming

Miracles will never cease, three books by Paulo Coelho found on display in Waterstone’s.

Is this a new Guinness Book of Records for Waterstone’s?

Yesterday afternoon, Waterstone’s in Godalming, three books by Paulo Coelho were found on display.

Waterstone’s Godalming, is a very small Waterstone’s, the staff actually know about books, it is more like an independent bookshop, which may explain this strange and very rarely seen phenomena of Paulo Coelho books found on display in a Waterstone’s bookshop.

The display, in addition to books by Paulo Coelho, had some interesting books, for example The Shack and The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.

Why bookshops are failing

April 3, 2013
Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Within a space of five years we lost a quarter of all our indie bookshops. The chains are faring little better.

It is easy to see why they are failing, and it is not the internet or Amazon which are simply scapegoats for bad practices, bad businesses acumen, and failure to know anything about books.

Independent bookshops are being put out of business because we do not operate in a level playing field. The chains Waterstone’s and WHSmith are offered massive discounts which are not available to the little guys, which enable the chains to offer books at anything up to 75% off.

But even with these massive discounts the chains are failing.

A couple of years ago we saw the Aleph fiasco. Walk into Waterstone’s they did not have it on display, the staff did not have clue what it was. A book by a leading author, an international best seller, and the staff did not have a clue, the shops did not have on display.

The same happened last year with NeverSeconds, by Martha and David Payne. There can be few books that has as much publicity, it was a potential Christmas best seller, it was launched in Waterstone’s in Glasgow, and yet lucky to find a copy in Waterstone’s, the staff did not have a clue, it was not on display.

Last Thursday, the eagerly awaited Manuscript Found in Accra was published. Another international best seller from an internationally acclaimed author.

Thanks to the publisher failing to set an embargo (at least better than Aleph where they actually forgot the book was published), Waterstone’s and a few indie bookshops stole a march on Amazon and not only put it on sale, but put it on display. But why not on display in the window? No mention in e-mails from Waterstone’s, that has been published, is in their bookshops.

Last week WHSmith had Manuscript Found in Accra on display in store (if you looked hard enough) at half price. But why not on display in the window and why so few copies? In one store three copies, in another store two copies. The day before publication they did not have a clue when I asked.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 in Barnes and Noble on day of publication. Maybe unlike WHSmith, they made it readily available.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 on Amazon. Which only goes to show the demand and where it could be in WHSmith if they got their act together and actually sold books!

Not a single copy of NeverSeconds in Waterstone’s

January 8, 2013
Waterstones Lincoln High Street

Waterstones Lincoln High Street

Two Waterstone’s in Lincoln, one in the market area in the old Corn Exchange, the other in the High Street.

Waterstone’s in the High Street no NeverSeconds on the shelves.

I asked, girl no idea NeverSeconds. Checked on the system, the one and only NeverSeconds they had in stock had been sold some days ago. She may have said 27 December, but I cannot be sure.

As she was quite helpfully, I explained NeverSeconds, that what was only on display was in the main celebrity garbage, Waterstone’s was a disgrace as a bookshop, and soon the chain would go under.

She did not disagree, said she was ashamed at having to walk past the rubbish on display, more suited to shelves of a supermarket, it was dictated centrally. I guessed she was former Ottaker’s (the rival book chain Waterstone’s bought and destroyed) where they decided what to order.

NeverSeconds grabbed her interest, and she said she would check it out.

She also checked other Waterstone’s. It was the same picture in most shops with a few rare exceptions, a single copy of NeverSeconds.

This has been my experience too, not on display, not a clue.

There has to be something very seriously wrong with what masquerades as a chain of bookshops (in reality a chain that sells books) and fails to have on display a potential best seller.

At the end of last year, the food blog NeverSeconds passed nine million hits, it featured with Martha Payne on most end of year reviews, but Waterstone’s does not have a single copy in stock, let alone NeverSeconds on display!

Over Christmas, BBC broadcast an updated edition of Martha, Meals and Malawi.

During the year, Martha picked up numerous awards, including Campaigner of the Year on Freedom of Expression from Liberty.

Together with her father David, Martha co-authored NeverSeconds, which tells the story of her blog, standing firm against the bully-boys at her local council, the trip to Malawi. For each copy of NeverSeconds sold, 25 meals for Mary’s Meals.

Thanks to the generosity of Cargo Publishing it is possible to download NeverSeconds for 99p.

NeverSeconds is for 12 days available for download from Amazon at 99p. Double good news, it will still pay for 25 dinners in Africa.

The Quest for NeverSeconds

November 20, 2012
Neverseconds book launch

There weren’t many left at the end of the night. – Martha Payne, NeverSeconds book launch, Waterstone’s Glasgow

NeverSeconds selling about 300 copies a day. That’s 7,500 Malawian children each day who’ll get a meal due to book. — Cargo Publishing

I think we broke Amazon by selling out … — Martha Payne

It would seem simple enough, a book that has had oodles of publicity, an author that has had even more publicity, to walk into a bookshop to find on display, piled high.

But sadly not the case. Not only do I find not on display, not in stock, the bookshops I have tried have not go a clue what I am talking about.

NeverSeconds, co-written by Martha and David Payne, is the story of Martha and her food blog NeverSeconds, currently selling at 300 copies per day, but walk into Waterstone’s and ask for a copy, and they have not a clue what you are talking about.

I tried today Waterstone’s Godalming.

I had tried last week, but in the end walked out as I got fed up waiting to get any service. The same today. I walked around the shop to see if there was anyone to ask. Nada. I had to wait. Eventually when I came to be served, the person woke up to the fact the queue was now half way down the shop and called for back up.

NeverSeconds please.

Long pause. Is it a book?

Now I appreciate it is stretching the point to call Waterstone’s a bookshop, but they are a chain that sells books. Now what would I be asking for, a Harley-Davidson bike?

Yes, it is a book.

Do you know the author?

Yes, Martha Payne, and just to be helpful I spelled Payne.

No, we do not have, but we do have one on order.

Would you like to know if any other Waterstone’s have copies.


Edinburgh has ten copies.

I was in Godalming in Surrey, south of London. Was I really likely to go up to London, catch the overnight Caledonian Sleeper to visit Waterstone’s in Edinburgh?

NeverSeconds was launched last week in Waterstone’s in Glasgow, a huge pile of books, which according to Martha, almost all were sold. Now does this not tell someone in Waterstone’s, we have a best-seller on our hands, we better get stocked up, sit back and watch them walk off the shelves? I have been at book launches, book signings, with well known authors, and seen only half a dozen books sold.

There weren’t many left at the end of the night. Our book is going to be in WHSmiths across the UK, Waterstones in Scotland and independent bookshops everywhere. I think we broke Amazon by selling out but more copies will be there tomorrow and the printers are making more today. It went into the top 200 on Amazon. You can also get it on a Kindle from Amazon websites all over the world but my favourite is in Japan! It doesn’t matter where you buy our book every copy gives children 25 meals in Malawi and that’s why we wrote it.

The pathetic excuse I was given Waterstone’s Godalming was that NeverSeconds was only published last week.

Surely you do not wait until after a book is published before ordering? You order in advance so that on publication day, you have copies on display, on the shelves.

Waterstone’s Lincoln same response, not in stock, not on order.

But it is not only Waterstone’s.

I tried WHSmith. No joy there either.

I then had the bright idea, catch the bus to Haslemere, visit an independent bookshop. The bus dropped me opposite The Haslemere Bookshop.

In one window trash the sort of trash one would find on display in Waterstone’s, only at a massive discount. Hardly inspiring. On the door a notice No coffee from Costa. I was not sure, was this anti-coffee or anti-Costa. I resisted the temptation to ask.

NeverSeconds please?

Do you know the author?

Yes, Martha Payne, which I spelled to be helpful.

No, we do not have, nor is it on order.

I expressed surprise that they did not know this book, to be told they could not be expected to know every book. I said I agreed, but I would expect them to know a book that has been serialised in the Sunday Times, has had lots of publicity. Not their department, they are not the buyers.

I suggested that as this was a book in demand, they ordered copies, put on display, and that way steal a march on Waterstone’s.

I am amazed how a bookshop like this stays in business. I visited it last year, then they did not know of Aleph, then latest book by Paulo Coelho, an international best seller.

The Haslemere Bookshop compares very unfavourably with a lovely indie bookshop around the back of Winchester Cathedral. They always have a wonderful window display, books that tempts one, a love of books.

It also compares unfavourably with Judd Books which I came across near the British Museum whilst in London last week.

A couple of days ago I contacted One Tree Books, an indie bookshop in Petersfield, a couple of years ago Bookshop of the Year (though I was not impressed when I paid them a visit last year). I asked did they have NeverSeconds? They have not had the courtesy to reply.

How do indie bookshops remain in business? Sadly they don’t. We have lost a quarter in the last five years. It is easy to why. Apart from a few noticeable exceptions, they compare very unfavourably with bookshops in Bassano del Grappa.

It is also easy to see why Waterstone’s is a failing book chain. I experienced the same problem last year when asking for Aleph by Paulo Coelho.

Amazon are not only winning on price, they are winning on service. If you want NeverSeconds, unless you live in Scotland, you have no choice than to go to Amazon, and even Amazon appear to be asleep on the job and the best they can deliver on is an e-book.

I do not wish to see all or indie bookshops wiped out, but unless failing bookshops get their act together, that is what will happen. They cannot compete on price, which means they have to compete on service.

NeverSeconds is now on at least its second print run. Maybe one day I will lay my hands on a copy, then I will write a review.

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