You would think that living in Leeds one of the Uk’s bigger cities would mean you had a great choice of bookstores including some fabulous independent ones to support. Unfortunately that is not the case unless you are into comics then the outstanding OK comics has you covered. Unfortunately if you are into print books then that leaves you with Waterstones, which I don’t object too overly and our local one has some fantastic staff. Although recently they have done everything they can to make me angry – now I really don’t at the moment want to give my money to a certain popular internet bookstore (thats a whole other rant entirely) but I feel like that might start becoming my only choice. So here in full detail and hopefully maybe being read by people who can do something about it are my problems with Waterstones and Waterstones Leeds in particular.
I like many other people have been really excited about Philip Pullman releasing the Book of Dust – I think the northern lights trilogy is possibly amongst the best set of books published in recent times and I’m even embarking on a reread of the series before the new one comes out (even though that means I have to buy them all again). And here’s my big problem – Waterstones are running a midnight launch event and selling the book for £10, sounds perfect right and I was completely up for it – I get the book at a reasonable price and maybe get a head start on reading it because I pick it up at midnight. Except here’s the deal you can only do that if you pay the entire £10 up front. The reasoning from waterstones being it’s an expensive book. And if you don’t do this well if you’re lucky enough to find a copy in there on launch day then you’ll be hit for the full £20 RRP.
Why is this making me so angry do you ask – there are many reasons, there is no guarantee the book will not be delayed in which case Waterstones have my money but I have no book.
Secondly I have shopped there for years I have a really good relationship with some of the staff there to the point that we have a standing order for Manga (Japanese comics) from them many of which cost a similar price to the book of dust and yet I have never once been charged up front for these or even been asked for a deposit and I still always pay for my books. So why Should i have to pay upfront for something else now.
This happened recently with the Release of norse mythology by Neil Gaiman a book as both a Gaiman fangirl and Scandinavian fanatic I could not have been more excited for – they charged up front I didn’t preorder – on release day there was not a copy in sight nor were there for days to come so I had to popular internet bookstore it.
Harming pockets by charging people the full RRP for the novel if they don’t preorder is something that can only be likened to the one week that people have to pay full price for a sofa at DFS. Everyone knows there is a time when you have to pay the nominal full retail price but no-one ever actually does it. Why should people in a bookstore be punished for not wanting to pay a full price up front. How many stores do that well you can pay for your food now and we’ll keep the money and you can collect it in a week or so when it comes out, it’s not a sensible thing to do. All waterstones do by coming up with this stupid idea is drive people to the internet to source their books there. Considering that local stores even large chain ones are seeking support from customers this seems to be a particularly short sighted move. I would not have even objected to paying a nominal fee of a couple of pounds for an event ticket that could have counted as a deposit to the book which is what they used to do in the past.
my Other problems with Waterstones as a whole is that apparently they are phasing out points cards – you now have to download an app and probably let them tap all sorts of your data. Also they have a policy of having events that will only draw a large crowd gone are the days you can go there and meet emerging authors and with Waterstones Leeds in particular forget them being interested in hosting local authors they ignore any attempts to get in contact with them over this or brush you off in store. This saddens me as I have found and gone to meet a lot of authors at book stores when they were starting off or have found new authors because they have been doing signings in store. I remember going to meet Elly Griffiths at Waterstones Leeds when she only had a couple of books out me and my dad loved meeting her, it was a really special experience and she is now a much bigger author so probably could still sign with them but if she was starting out now probably wouldnt get a look in.
There is also the death of the Mini-con a fab event that seems to have died due to the stores later opening hours, this was one of the best inventions of Waterstones leeds in recent years and it really saddens me that they have ended. And dont even get me started on their complete inability to even stock a decent scfi, fantasy and horror section. As a massive book geek I really want to support my local book store and my local authors and it angers me to no end that one of our largest chains of bookstores and my local one just has zero interest in supporting this. Where will I source my books from now?????