Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back to the grindstone

Today being my day off I have been ringing book stores as usual to try and get some more business. One of the ones on my list was Waterstones in Wakefield, Yorkshire. The manager was not available, so I spoke to a bookseller instead who explained to me that you can check to see which stores have stock of your book online. I didn't realise this and wish I had known about it months ago - I am surprised that no one has mentioned this to me before

It seems that all you have to do is go to the Waterstones website at and search for your book(s). When you find them, click on check stock levels and a list of stores that have copies is displayed. Reading down the list then I was pleasantly surprised to see several stores that I did not know had copies - such as Lakeside in Essex and surprisingly also Harrods (don't know how they heard about it!).

I was also though disappointed to see a large number that had told me they had ordered were not on the list! It is true that some who ordered early on may have returned their copies - I know of at least one shop that has done this, but it shouldn't be this many, as most only ordered in November or December. I rang a couple of the local ones anyway and explained what had happened and they all said that despite my being told they would order copies, they had not done so. Well now they have ...

Why do they do this though - I mean, I understand that they are busy and get distracted and sometimes might forget, but that's the reason that I send emails out thanking them for their custom, as these also serve as a reminder .... It just annoys me that now I am going to have to email them all again trying to find out what has happened, and then ring them all up. I don't have the time to do this when I work four days a week. Why don't people do things when they say they are going to!

The good news though is that Waterstones as a company have now sold 72 copies through their tills - this is 6 more than when I last asked 10 days ago. If I can keep this up for another 3 months or so, I stand a good chance of the book being taken as core stock. Must ring Staines at some point then and follow up that email I sent to them, and get back in touch with Simon and Tim from the Big Green Bookshop to thank them for explaining how core stock works . There is nothing about this at all on Waterstones website, but then I wouldn't expect to find it there anyway, since the site is aimed more at book buyers than book writers. That may be changing soon though if my previous post is anything to go by.

It seems ironic though, at a time that Waterstones as a company seem to be doing so well (must be all those copies of Genesis of Man they are selling), that they are closing more stores. The latest casualty is the High Street branch in Inverness. Thankfully this is not the one that I am stocked in in that fair city. They hope to redeploy the 10 staff elsewhere in the company, although given its highland location and the lack of neighbouring stores, unless the entire staff of Eastgate Inverness walk out, this may be difficult.

It sounds like the new Borders website will be one to look at also, as the company has some impressive things lined up. These include over 100 author interviews which the public will be able to access when they click on the relevant links to the author in questions work. The site, which goes live this spring, will also enable readers to upload videos of themselves reviewing books (I wonder if authors will be able to do this and talk about their own work).

The website content will also appear in a daily programme broadcast on the Simply TV satellite channel, hosted by Nina Sebastiane, a former host of Loose Women, one of my favourite lunch time shows, and and ex-VH1 presenter Samantha Norman.

This will definitely be one to watch and will certainly give both Waterstones and WH Smiths a run for their money. Waterstones I suspect though will still reign supreme, since most of their outlets are on the High Street whereas the majority of Borders are located in retail parks on out of town sites, which you would expect to be favoured by an American owned company. I am yet to try that many of their branches, but have made inroads in a few of them.

Oh well, off the gym and to give blood and then back to work again tomorrow. Two weeks tomorrow until I go back to Lundy as well - my little island refuge. It can't come soon enough.

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