New MD of Waterstone's, James Daunt, tells publishers the current system of buying is not sustainable

UK Bookseller, Waterstone's newly installed m.d. James Daunt has told publishers the current way the chain sells books is "not sustainable" and has said that there will be a move to central buying.

Waterstone's is reintroducing central buying for both new books and replenishment but m.d. James Daunt insisted store staff would be able to order the books they want, when they want.

It is unclear how the new buying system will work, or when it will be implemented. He said this new system would cut the "massive duplication" involved in the current system.

The Bookseller understands Daunt has been in talks to install the same American system he uses at Daunt Books—WordStock—into Waterstone’s. Currently Wordstock is used mainly by independent booksellers, although larger chains such as Hudson Books in North America also use it. It is thought Waterstone’s would be one of the largest retailers to install the system, costing the business around $2,000 (£1,240) on average for an annual subscription per branch. Many have testified the systems at Waterstone’s are in need of replacement, with one source describing them as “antiquated” and “hopeless”, with the catalogue ordering system Phoenix referred to by another as a ­“living nightmare”.

Daunt said the chain's success in using this new buying system will depend on publisher support, communication between each shop and head office buying team and how well the hub performs.

He said the chain will thrash out the details of how it will operate central buying during the next 10 days.

The Bookseller revealed yesterday how Daunt is reintroducing central buying but insisted store staff could order the books they want, when they wanted.

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