Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ready...Aim...FIRE ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Here I am, ordering away, when I come to the bit where I go for the new Virago Classics hardbacks...

...when I get to the bit about them being exclusive to Waterstones. Well thanks a bunch Virago! They look great. Would love to sell them to people IF YOU'D LET US.

I would have thought it was independent shops like C & P that would be selling copies of these great books day after day after day after day, year after year after year but obviously I was wrong.

I feel like I've just been slapped.


  1. AnonymousMay 06, 2008

    Looks like the independent shops are being well bitch slapped by the bigger publishers generally.

    Faber's new "Faber Finds" series says

    "...will be available from all good online bookshops and the Faber website from June 2008."

    Shame. Or just shameless?

  2. AnonymousMay 07, 2008

    Books by women for everyone, who shops at Waterstones. Shame on you Virago. They did look lovely didn't they but I will give them a miss in solidarity. I'm sure Persephone would never do this.

  3. Anon - not sure I appreciate the choice of words there...

    I think the Faber thing is more to do with print on demand. Faber are one of the best in terms of support for independent shops. Their "Faber Alliance" thing is fantastic and something we have made great use of in the past.

    Print on demand is something long-term followers of this blog will know we are interested in.

    As usual the big boys are trying to get in there first. Amazon want to do pod - would remove need for watrehouse space.

    The more canny publishers (such as Faber) appreciate the future importance of pod backlist. Many academic books are already POD.

    But C & P will have a machine in the basement one day and we will carry on fighting to make bricks and mortar bookshops brilliant in every way...

    Roll on the future - it's ours baby!

  4. Just put those book tokens to good use, or wait a couple of months or so and pick them up as remainders just like every other Waterstone's promotion.

  5. AnonymousMay 07, 2008

    I assume that Waterstone's talked to Virago and said hey we'll take a range of hardbacks if they're exclusive. Virago would have thought what's not to like, a straight sale and promotion, and volumes to make it work - something you I guess can't offer. You can't really blame a publsher for making a commercial decision, it's not as if the books aren't available in other editions anyway.

  6. Anonymous,

    There is an Indian publisher called Tara who produce beautiful hand-made limited print run editions of a 1000 copies. It had crossed our mind to buy up an entire print run and make it a C&P 'exclusive' for Chelsea. But a)they probably wouldn't have let us and b)it's just plain mean. Stuff the commerciality, we've already had three customers this morning looking for the Viragos we've had to turn away. They were a)disappointed and b)annoyed that they now had to trek to Waterstone's across the river to get the books. They might buy the Viragos but they definitely won't be back.

  7. Adam - they will be back. At least two of those people said they had come to us to buy the books specially. Anyone willing to do that will be back in future. I don't think a trip to Waterstones is going to seduce them away for ever...

    This post was not really meant as a moan at Virago - it was just inspired by the "coal face" reality of not being able to sell books we have a great market for and would love to sell.

    I don't like "exclusive" stuff. Plus we get loads of stick about being elitist - is not the idea of "exclusive editions" the height of elitism?

  8. AnonymousMay 07, 2008

    I think this is all a bit of a red herring. The exclusivity that Waterstone's crave is because they have blanded their shops so much that they increasingly need to source 'product' that is exclusive so they can differentiate themselves from what they see as their competitors. And they do this frequently with special editions. And I can see how frustrating it is when you can't meet a customers need.
    However what you do is by its nature, a personal and idiosyncratic bookshops featuring what you like and what you think your customers will like, exclusive. Whether that is elitist or not depends on how you represent yourselves.

  9. I was annoyed. But now I'm not. It's hard to stay annoyed on a sunny day, even if I am sat inside...

  10. We know an author whose publisher did an exclusive deal with Waterstones to have his latest picture book out in paperback at the same time as the hardback was out everywhere else.

    I guess this is a big strategic move for Waterstones moving forward. Exclusivity typically means never needing to discount and presumably bigger percentages for the publisher. Difficult to resist, but still very galling for the rest of us, particularly - as Matthew said - there's a book that you know would sell well in the shop.

  11. And of course the whole point of that last post (doh) which I failed to explain was that the author was totally unaware of the deal until someone showed him a copy of the paperback...

  12. Mark - "Exclusivity typically means never needing to discount and presumably bigger percentages for the publisher."

    Look on the Waterstones website and they ARE discounting the HB Viragos...by £2...

    Who goes DOH now?

  13. Update - one of the people who wanted the Virago HBs came back today and this is what she said:

    "I went and looked @ Virago books in Waterstones - didn't buy though - they looked ok but not great..."

    Alwaqys leave the last word to those who know best (the customer stoopid) - I'm over it...

  14. AnonymousMay 10, 2008

    The Virago farrago. We too are outraged, and have had to turn customers away. We contacted our rep who said that she too had been sidelined by Virago. Numerous phone calls have been made and have come to nothing. This range of books are so us (independent)- we'll be buggered if we have to go to W*********s. Jo, David, Lotte and Helene at Toppings of Ely

  15. Salutations to all the tip-topping folk of Ely.

    Traditional bookselling for the 21st century eh?

    Stuff the e-reader!

  16. I'm gobsmacked that W are selling them £2 off. What is the point of exclusivity? What this says to me is that discounting in the chains has got to the point that people have been conditioned to expect a discount and *won't buy* unless there's a couple of quid off at least. That's worrying...

  17. The chains have discounted their brains out...

    Next they discount themselves out of business in a futile attempt to compete on price vs the internet and supermarkets.

    The future for the likes of us is bright.

    Break the chains!

    Bring back the local bookshop!

    (Note to all staff of Waterstones etc who may be reading this - these are just the opinions of a silly old independent bookseller so there's no need to worry - I'm sure all your jobs are safe etc.)

    (thought I'd better slip that in there as last time we foretold the demise of the great W we caused panic at W Picadilly - not our intention)

    (but quite funny really!)

    (though obviously highly regretful)