Friday, June 26, 2015

Waterstones' Daunt: 'We've Changed'

Shelf Awareness

Since its purchase by Alexander Mamut in 2011, Waterstones has changed to a company that's "more customer-focused, with booksellers who have more flexible working hours, more accountability and higher energy," managing director James Daunt said, speaking at a conference in the U.K. and quoted by the Bookseller.

James Daunt
"In 2011, booksellers spent their time stickering, ordering and returning books, but now more time is spent helping customers; their tasks were once routine and customers had little trust in staff, but now trust is much higher, with booksellers' days spent improving the shop and recommending books instead of trying to please the bookshop manager or publishers, Daunt said. There is also now stronger accountability among booksellers with performance-related pay, and high energy when there was once low energy, he added." Waterstones has also changed its buying process, cut returns by 70% and halved the staff in its head office.

Daunt said that publishers now value Waterstones because "it actively sells books," with the Book of the Month promotion, events that showcase books and generally "being alert to what publishers need." The company's mission is important, he continued. "It is all our responsibilities to encourage investment in libraries and reading. We live or die by our culture."

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