Waterstone's is the last major chain bookshop we have on the high street in the UK and a lot has been said about it in the media lately with the departure of its MD, Gerry Johnson after poor trading results over Christmas.
The talk is now about whether or not Waterstone's will survive. Many publishers and authors, not to mention the staff sincerely hope so, but do the customers and potential customers?
High street bookselling in this country has declined so rapidly that it seems in danger of disappearing. Small independent bookshops have struggled to survive. Many have not done so, while Internet bookselling is thriving, which is indeed good news for authors.
Waterstone's policy of looking backwards and following what sold well last year and only taking established authors and those whose publishers will pay for space, guarantees the same old thing: low results, stagnation and ultimately failure. If they are to survive it's time for re-thinking their marketing, buying and stock holding policies, for doing something drastic to tempt customers back and entice new ones into their shops. I hope their new MD and management team have the flair, imagination, courage and support to do this.