Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Bookselling Brief - Waterstone's, Amazon, The Book Depository and Indie Bookshops

Waterstone's, Britain's biggest bookseller, is ending its long running three-for-two promotion, which has been a key plank in the company's marketing effort for more than a decade.


The decision follows the sale of the chain to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut, and the appointment of independent bookseller James Daunt as managing director in June.

The 296-store Waterstone's business is now said to be looking at introducing money-off deals for individual books from September, instead of the blanket three-for-two, either pricing campaign books at £5, or introducing a "staggered" offer for paperbacks at £3, £5 and £7.  The news was greeted positively by a book trade that has largely welcomed the change to Waterstone's ownership.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has pushed back its decision on whether to refer the Amazon takeover of The Book Depository to the Competition Commission.

The decision was expected to come on 2nd September but an OFT spokesman said a date for the decision was now "to be confirmed". He said the timetable for an announcement could change for "any number of reasons", but declined to go into specifics.

Amazon announced in July it had agreed a deal to take over The Book Depository, which led to the Booksellers and Publishers Associations, the Independent Publishers Guild and the Bookseller Group voicing opposition to the merger. The Irish Competition Authority cleared the deal in late July.

Four UK  independent bookshops with a combined total of 175 years on the high street have announced their closure within a week, blaming their downfall on high rates, competition from internet retailers and supermarkets, e-books and a lack of support from publishers.

The Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth, founded by Winnie the Pooh author A A Milne's son Christopher Milne, said it was being forced to close after 60 years, and Derwent Bookshop in Workington, Cumbria, is to shut after 33 years. Both are the only bookshops in their towns. The iconic Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill, London, made famous by the Hugh Grant film, will close soon after 32 years of trading, and Pritchard's Bookshop in Formby, near Liverpool, will also shut after 50 years. 

Each of the shops' owners said high rent and rates were the main reasons running their businesses had become unsustainable, and the death of local high streets was also a popular cause of blame for decreasing custom and falling sales.



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