James Daunt: Defender of the Bookshop

October 27th, 2011 by Katherine_Marshall | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on James Daunt: Defender of the Bookshop
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On the 6th October 2011, book retailer Waterstone’s ended its famous 3-for-2 offer, thereby signalling a new direction for the company under Managing Director, James Daunt.  The offer, described by some as “iconic”, will be replaced by a series of price discounts and promotions, designed to increase the flexibility of book buying in its stores.  Daunt has championed the new pricing strategy, proclaiming that it will provide customers with the opportunity to buy the book that they want, rather than focusing on the price.  He wants his shops to be “community hubs”, where people can browse for books in a pleasant environment without being bombarded by blunt and “irritating” offers.

Waterstone’s struggles have been well documented of late, but it remains to be seen whether this latest shift in strategy will herald a change in fortunes for the company.  However, it is not the only thing to change as Daunt steams ahead with his plans to revive the retailer.   The MD, who took up the post in June, is on a mission to transform the bookseller into a company capable of rivalling online giants such as the mighty Amazon.  In addition to ending the 3-for-2 offer, Daunt has indicated the possibility of introducing differential pricing in his stores (a controversial and slightly baffling concept) and Waterstone’s is also due to launch its very own e-reader in 2012.

Daunt’s vision of what a bookshop should be is, in many ways, commendable.  Unfortunately, the reality of the bookselling market today means that the MD’s traditional ideals risk falling on deaf ears as consumers increasingly value price over place of purchase.

Watch this space…