Saturday, November 21, 2015

Good news about bookshops.

It seems that Waterstones has finally turned a profit (article here) and James Daunt is up beat and full of plans. Since the dark days of 4 or 5 years ago when it looked like the business was done for things have got progressively better - at least in the remaining bookshops. Leicester sadly lost the larger branch it had (still really miss it) and is left with a small one which offers limited scope for browsers. Though now that I realise click and collect is an option things are looking up.

In an ideal world the high street would be a haven for good independent bookshops - but it rarely is. A thriving Waterstones is a hopeful sign though. I'm not starry eyed about the realities of bookselling, I know exactly what it's like (not especially glamorous) but actual shops, with people you can speak to are great. Trying to negotiate deliveries around work time through a company that's notoriously poor both in the way it treats its employees and its tax paying habits is problematic.

It's the way employees are treated and the frustration of trying to get my deliveries that make Amazon so hard for me to deal with. Their local courier service actually isn't bad but being able to go to an actual shop (where staff seem reasonably happy) is so much better. Waterstones isn't perfect but knowing that it can be turned round suggests that there's a future not only for them but for well run independents too - which brings me to civilised Saturday...

Good shops add something to the community, good bookshops are certainly bastions of civilisation, Black Friday is, in this country at least (where it makes no bloody sense), not civilised. Civilised Saturday sounds like a much more fun marketing strategy. Kibworth bookshop is also close to me, it's excellent, and I would love to be there next weekend (instead I'll be flogging wine to the masses). I'll just have to settle for doing my bit and buying a book as soon as ever I can.


  1. I was glad to read about Waterstones. My sister worked in the first US branch, in Boston.

    Honestly, Black Friday doesn't make that much sense here in the US, really. And I loathe the way it has taken over Thanksgiving, to the point that stores feel they have to open Thanksgiving night, so employees have to give up their time off. I refuse to go anywhere near a mall or a major store on those days, but I was thinking of going to my favorite used book-store. Maybe I'll wait til Saturday now.

  2. At least it comes on a holiday weekend. Here there isn't even that excuse, I'll be at work (no Black Friday stuff for us) but I'm anticipating any number of grumpy shoppers who think that by being aggressively unpleasant they'll get something extra. The majority of our customers are lovely but it's amazing the impact one idiot can have on your day and I must admit my tolerance is going down. I hope you've had a great day with family, and that the rest of your weekend is indeed civilised!