Wednesday, 31 August 2011

342 vs "Good Bookselling"

342 was a feature of Waterstone's bookselling when I worked there so it has obviously been around for a very long time, almost certainly too long. I was at Waterstone's when I saw my first billboard advert for Amazon. 24hours delivery to your home? Surely not? But it turned out to be true. Right from the start when Waterstone's handed out a Yahoo branded CDrom that basically turned your computer into a Yahoo advert they have failed to deal with the Internet. They have consistently failed, through a host of differing management structures and strategies, to cope with change. When I first read The Wind-Up-Bird chronicle I was so impressed I filled half the windows of the Chiswick branch with the book. We sold loads until someone from head office spotted the window and made us pull it out. One book? All that space? Are you mad? Yes, mad for good books. I feel vindicated now seeing as how massive Murakami has become. But the result of this attitude from head office was that I buggered off to the Pan Bookshop, then Daunt then started my own bookshop.

I'm not going to claim to be some perfect bookseller but I do think what Waterstone's needs to do is to get back to good bookselling as the basis of everything it does. Good bookselling? What is that? I can understand the frustration when such seemingly vague phrases are bandied about. The fact is like good wine, good sex, good football and good writing it's hard to explain to others. (Blackberry undertones, crisp passing, creativity and better penetration - choose your own order!) The point is you know it when it's right and it's pretty exciting. That's what makes you go back for more...

No comments:

Post a Comment