Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Beginning of the End?

Eleven Waterstone's stores will close by the end of this week across the UK and altogether twenty sites are earmarked for closure.
Current stock at all eleven outlets will be removed and "where possible" recycled.
Waterstones have not disclosed how many staff will be affected.
Store Closures:
Slough, Maidenhead, Edinburgh East End, Dublin Dawson Street, Dublin Jervis Street, Colchester Culver Square, Worcester High Street, Guildford North Street, Stafford Guildhall, Hemel Hempstead Marlowes Centre, Coventry Cathedral Lanes, Tiverton, Luton, Chelmsford, Meadows
It's a sad day for book lovers when Waterstones start to close branches. Remember how quickly Borders disappeared? Anyone interested in books should be seriously worried that this is just the beginning of Waterstones closures. Do we want the only outlets to be cut price supermarkets, charity shops and online suppliers? It's not rocket science that without revenue from book buyers, publishers and authors won't survive. New books won't be subject to the rigorous selection, editing and proofreading currently offered (most of the time) by publishers and the whole book industry will disappear very quickly.
The reading public is diminishing so perhaps this is an inevitable decline, but if we care about the survival of bookshops and the future of books, we need to support and value the industry that produces them.
So before rushing to collect your free book on World Book Night on March 5th, why not support World Book Day on March 3rd by buying a book from your local Waterstones - while you still can.
And you might want to take a photo while you're there, because unless more people buy books in bookshops we may soon no longer have that opportunity.
It's up to all of us to make bookshops sustainable - if we want them to survive.
And before you go look again at the image on this post (above left).
http://www.thebookseller.com/news/waterstones-close-11-stores-end-week.htmlebookseller.com/news/waterstones-close-11-stores-end-week.html

27 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

oh that is sad. I hate to hear that. over here, Borders is having a lot of trouble at the moment.

Leigh Russell said...

Yes, that's been reported widely on the internet, Charles, and it's all very worrying. This week a dozen branches of Waterstones are closing with a further 6 by the end of the year, and 400 libraries are threatened with closure in the UK. Saving money but at what cost?

Sharon said...

Our local Barnes and Noble, in Augusta, Maine, has dedicated whole areas of the store to games. And the first thing you see when you come in the door is a giant Nook display. I would buy more books from them if they had more books in stock.

Leigh Russell said...

I'm not sure what a Nook is, Sharon, but I'm guessing it's not a book. The first thing customers head for in bookshops here is the 3for2 table - 3 books for the price of 2. It's a great offer, but of course slashes the bookshop's profits.

Val said...

Ouch, I have no idea of what I'd do if I did not have a real book in my hand.

Leigh Russell said...

Ouch is right, Val!

Guillaume said...

I purchased books in one of the closing stores last year! This is very worrying. Waterstone is maybe the last big giant, one of the few bookstore chains which franchises can be real, genuine book shops. I found treasures in Waterstone's, things I would not find anywhere else. If so many stores are closing, that does not look good for the future.

Leigh Russell said...

I agree, Guillaume, it's not looking good. We MUST support Waterstones by buying books from them while we still can and hope it won't be too little, too late.

David said...

As both an author and a publisher I am well aware of multiple store closures. This is the result of two factors: a poor economy, but more so the emergence of the eBook. Stores such as Waterstones, Borders, Barnes & Noble and others will not only continue to decrease in numbers, but also change character - radically! As both an author and a publisher one would think this situation might bother me, but quite the contrary. Since the emergence of the eBook I am selling far more books than I ever did in print, and I expect the number to grow exponentially. A simple financial reality is at the core of this change: it costs a publisher about $3.00 to produce a paper book. Then he must incur the cost of shipping, as well as unsold returns. An eBook, on the contrary, costs a publisher (other than time invested) about $10.00 to produce, the life of the book is more or less infinite, and sell-through is 100%. Some people may prefer paper copies, but they are no longer a viable product for most publishers, and they simply will not produce them. What's more, the eBook is instantly available to a worldwide market, whereas paper books must be distributed to local stores and a local population. Then there is the question of ecology... The writing is on the wall. Better buy your eReaders.

David Barber said...

I blame the e-book readers and everyone of them who have advertised them on their blogs and purchased a novel for 99 cents etc, etc.

It's a disgrace and everyone who has an e-reader should be ashamed of themselves!!!

Leigh Russell said...

David - you're right. But there may be a bigger issue than print vs ebook. When I was a child (long time ago) there were books around, at home or at school. We could pick them up when bored, and many of us did. Children today are far more likely to play a game than turn to a book on their screens, and they already satisfy their need for stories through film. Will there still be a place for books - print or eversion - by 2050?

Leigh Russell said...

David Barber - don't get me started on free books, 30for2, buy one get one half price, books free with newspapers (!), charity shops, supermarkets, amazon - books are now so cheap that they have become completely devalued. Readers no longer expect to pay for them - and why should they when so many people are rushing to give them away? Many people now refuse to pay full price for a book on principle - a principle that will bankrupt bookshops, publishers and authors who will disappear.

Leigh Russell said...

The only possible answer is for the reading public to put their hands in their pockets and start shelling out the price of a coffee or two, or a couple of pints, on a new book. But who wants to pay for something they can get for free?

David Barber said...

Our house is full of kids books (as well as my own). My daughters (4 & 6) have a bookcase in their bedrooms that are overflowing. On top of that, my wife takes them every week after school to the local library to get their new "fix" of reading. It's a great sight to watch them excitedly tell me about the new books they've got. My eldest told me the other day, on the way to school, that she wants to write stories for her job when she gets older. We'll see! Books may not exist then!!

You have a new follower, Leigh.

Jill Kemerer said...

Waterstones looks like just the kind of store I would enjoy an afternoon in. I hope they can stay open.

Your book looks terrific--I think my girlfriend would love it--I'll pass her the info!

Leigh Russell said...

I really hope your daughter's wish comes true, David. I'm sure books will survive in some form, but they may be a fringe pastime rather than mainstream.... I hope not!

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you very much, Jill. I hope to see you here again - and your friend.

Ali Karim said...

Terrible news , really dire

Leigh Russell said...

Yes, Ali, terrible in human terms. One manager told me they knew one of the stores in their town was to close but learned only days before the closure which of the two branches was going. And dire in terms of the future of books and reading - and civilisation. Is the post literate society approaching faster than we realise, not with a bang but a whimper that hardly anyone hears.

Chris Stovell said...

Excellent post - well said, Leigh.

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Chris. Let's hope I'm being overly pessimistic.

Star said...

I blame the Kindle and other e-readers. People are buying these up and downloading free books all over the place and no-one seems to want to spend a happy hour in the bookstore on a Saturday morning anymore.
I think it's a great shame and a sign of the times.
I hope that once the immediate excitement about e-readers is over, people will once again return to the bookstores. We can't spend all our lives in front of a computer. We need to go into shops? don't we? and see what other people are perusing. We need to enjoy the atmosphere, the colourful displays and the smell, so evocative.
Most of all we need to teach our children the joy of reading and choosing books.
Looking on the positive side, I suppose we are saving a fair number of trees?

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Star, let's hope the bookshops are still there when we decide we want to return to them! It's a good point about the trees, Star, but can't we make books from recycled paper these days?

Ariane said...

I still haven't recovered from losing Borders' Glasgow store. Glasgow will never be the same for me again. To lose Waterstone's too would be a disaster.

Support your local bookshops or LOSE them people! Even if we all buy a book or two a year more than normal, it will help.

Ariane said...

I agree that books are becoming devalued. Book lovers will always love books though - and by that I mean people, like me, who love the smell and feel of a real book.

And those, also like me, whose eyes are a bit gozzy for eReaders should help save books!

But it is a worry, a real worry, that they may disappear in the next 50 years.

Ariane said...

Also - TV programmes like Bookaboo are helping to inspire interest in books. I don't even have kids and I LOVE watching the stories being read to Bookaboo....I have even been bought some delightful children's books about cows (I love cows) and seen one read on the show. I just love books and would love to have kids to inspire with my lifelong passion and to read to. If I did have kids my house would be overflowing with children's books.

Leigh Russell said...

We need more people like you, Ariane! I know children's books can be expensive but I can imagine you distributing lots of lovely books to nieces and nephews at Christmas.