Friday, June 12, 2009

3 for all at Waterstones

Following on from last weeks post regarding Waterstones selling items at above RRP, it now seems that in certain of their branches, they have begun to trial another offer - everything - and I mean every single book, on 3 for 2. Since the two branches at which the offer was trialled are located very close to rival Borders, this has led to intense speculation that the offer is a deliberate move aimed at sabotaging their rivals business.

Around ten stores have so far taken part in the trial, with the offer described as "ongoing" at two of these stores - The Bentalls Centre in Kingston (formerly my own local branch) and Albion Street in Leeds.

Waterstones are said to have funded this offer themselves. I must say that this seems a bit drastic. I am not sure what it is, but the company must be up to something. Nothing was said to any publishers or anyone else involved in the business. The offer seems to have been ongoing for at least two weeks already, so I am surprised it took this long for the news to be reported. As with the over pricing mentioned last week, they are of course perfectly within their rights to do this, as they are free to set any price that they choose - especially if, as the article claims, they are taking the hit themselves. One has to though wonder, where this will all end.

On the one hand, including back list in these offers will almost certainly lead to more sales, but who will end up paying for this? Waterstones will not be willing or able to fund this offer indefinitely, which means that we, the authors and publishers will be asked to pay in the form of higher discounts. Quite how this will work with self published titles which are supplied through wholesalers rather than direct from the publisher remains to be seen.

The full article can be read here.

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