Friday, January 13, 2012
Book talk with Katie Allen - The Bookseller's web editor
Who would have thought that something so small could cause such a ruckus? Well we do work in publishing, and language is the thing, but Waterstones' decision to drop its apostrophe has caused a media storm not seen . . . ooh since the end of "three-for-twos".
The chain has also reverted back to its original uppercase 'W' and Baskerville serif font. M.d. James Daunt explained the move as "a more versatile and practical spelling", adding: "It also reflects an altogether truer picture of our business today which, while created by one, is now built on the continued contribution of thousands of individual booksellers.”
The lost apostrophe has caused the most grief, with the chairman of the Apostrophe Society claiming "It's gramatically incorrect. If Sainsbury's and McDonald's can get it right, then why can't Waterstones? You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English."
The Bookseller's forum, ever diligent on these matters, has reacted in various ways, with "Bookseller" pointing out: "Does the average person going in to buy a book really care or even notice whether or not there is an apostrophe? In the current climate there are more important things for the media and the book industry to discuss."
Indeed, the other controversial issue of the week has been HarperCollins' link-up with McDonald's (now there is an apostrophe). The fast food chain is to give away nine million copies of Michael Morpurgo's Mudpuddle Farm books in its Happy Meals. The chain has also funded, with WHS, vouchers to go in the boxes to enable children or parents to purchase two Morpurgo titles from WHS stores for only £1.
The National Literacy Trust is backing the scheme, with director Jonathan Douglas saying: "We are very supportive of McDonald’s decision to give families access to popular books, as its size and scale will be a huge leap towards encouraging more families to read together."
One alternative view is the worry that the scheme devalues the very books it is promoting - and also directs consumers away from alternative stores to buy in WHS. The debate continues…
In slightly less fraught news, Hachette Ireland may be hoping for a Me Cheeta in the life story of footballer Roy Keane's dog. Actually penned by Paul Howard, Triggs: The Autobiography will cover critical events in the midfielder's life from the point of view of his faithful hound. Roy Keane—now there's a man who never attracted controversy in his life, at least not for grammar.