News

Toby Bourne leaves Waterstone's

Waterstone’s head of books Toby Bourne has left the bookseller with immediate effect today (14th July).

James Daunt, the chain's m.d., is thought to be taking over his role, along with the post of commercial director previously held by Michael Neil. Daunt said: “He [Bourne] has played an integral role at Waterstone's and will be much missed by his team and the wider Waterstone's business. Everyone at Waterstone's should be incredibly grateful for all he has done, as should the wider book trade. I sincerely hope that he decides to stay within the industry—he will be a huge asset to any company lucky enough to have him."

The retailer said Bourne, who joined Waterstone's from Asda in 2006, was "pivotal in reinvigorating Waterstone’s trade promotions”, introducing linksaves and putting increased focus on debut writing and literary awards.

It said: “He was instrumental in the company's hugely successful launch of the Sony Reader, introducing the UK to digital reading, and has been a fierce supporter of the children's offer at Waterstone's, from championing the children's trial and Waterstone's sponsorship of the children's laureate to his role as trustee of World Book Day since 2008.”

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Toby has been good for the business, look at the role of honor in the press release, I am sure he will do well in his next role.

However; no Commercial director, no senior buyers, no one senior in marketing and Christmas just 5 months away. Dear James - W's is bigger than your current chain and trying to do it all yourself will be a train wreck for you, W's and the trade.

Great pic of Toby, looks really happy!

First Fiona, then Michael, now Toby. Meaningless to many but will be missed and hard to see how Christmas works without them. Not many left now so hope JD has genius plan. And communicates it soon. Best of luck TB

Daunt has now assumed positions previously held by three people - Dominic Myers, Michael Neil and Toby Bourne. All highly capable and all very busy whilst they held those posts. I hope he will prove those extra heads to be superfluous; I fear he will merely reiterate what a loss to the business their leaving was.

a daunting outlook for Waterstones, good luck. We really do hope you succeed.

By all accounts Toby Bourne is a popular and respected figure, but his more retail-driven approach clearly isn't what James Daunt wants.

In fairness to Bourne, he seemed to be trying to cater for all tastes - linksaves for the price-conscious and book prizes for the chattering classes. But the result didn't seem to fully satisfy anyone. I think that Waterstone's was too big and diverse for these central strategies to work.

If I was in James Daunt's shoes and had a remit to transform the business, I probably wouldn't want to retain the services of a person who was so closely associated with such a different approach, no matter how good they were.

Having worked in bookshops at both ends of the spectrum, I'd say that Toby Bourne's strategy made perfect sense in the mass market towns but, in some ways, alienated people in the heavy book buying areas. Broadsheet readers hate linksaves (he said, generalising without any real foundation). If James Daunt pushes the business too far in the other direction, then mass market customers will simply migrate to Smiths, Tesco and Amazon.

However, if Alexander Mamut's mission statement is fulfilled, you won't need a Toby Bourne in the future, because shops will have far more autonomy and be able to respond to their local market.

I for one think James Daunt on the right track. It was obvious that
there were far too many cooks running the show. We have tried
all manner of crazy ideas, and see no reason why we should not put our faith in someone who has been selling books for 20 years.

It is a relief to see that at last the supermarket men are departing (or being diplomatically encouraged to do so). After all this time they have still not got it: - that books are not lifeless products and that the book trade is not retail i.e. mass distribution. But what, they would say, do I know? I'm only a writer and former independent bookshop owner (not failed, but ended after 12 years due to the posting abroad of my partner) and now p/t Wstones bookseller. Of course James Daunt will have his hands full, but isn't it better to have one person with the right ideas rather than 15 with the wrong ones? One bad decision at the top gets amplified as it filters down through the endless middle managers, regional managers, store managers and their poor decision about who they employ. What is mad at the moment is that the wrong stuff is still going in the shop floor detail while Mr Daunt weeds out the top end. My mother used to say the fish stinks at the head and James Daunt seems to know it.

Why, why, why do you, like other institutionalised managers think that an ever increasing pile of managers do a better job than a handful of great ones? The previous managers and their ideas, style of management and lack of understanding why people buy books has brought Waterstones to its knees. Why on earth do you go on about how wonderful these people were? If it was your company, would you think it a success that HMV bought W'stones for £300 million and has sold it for a mere £53 million? How can that possibly be construed as the success of all these 'wonderful managers' that Waterstones is now shedding? As James Daunt very elegantly says,Toby will be an asset to any company - very probably, but perhaps to a supermarket where he came from rather than the booktrade.

so that was the person who thought up linksaves, Asda hmmmmm

Toby has been good for the business, look at the role of honor in the press release, I am sure he will do well in his next role.

However; no Commercial director, no senior buyers, no one senior in marketing and Christmas just 5 months away. Dear James - W's is bigger than your current chain and trying to do it all yourself will be a train wreck for you, W's and the trade.

Great pic of Toby, looks really happy!

First Fiona, then Michael, now Toby. Meaningless to many but will be missed and hard to see how Christmas works without them. Not many left now so hope JD has genius plan. And communicates it soon. Best of luck TB

Daunt has now assumed positions previously held by three people - Dominic Myers, Michael Neil and Toby Bourne. All highly capable and all very busy whilst they held those posts. I hope he will prove those extra heads to be superfluous; I fear he will merely reiterate what a loss to the business their leaving was.

Why, why, why do you, like other institutionalised managers think that an ever increasing pile of managers do a better job than a handful of great ones? The previous managers and their ideas, style of management and lack of understanding why people buy books has brought Waterstones to its knees. Why on earth do you go on about how wonderful these people were? If it was your company, would you think it a success that HMV bought W'stones for £300 million and has sold it for a mere £53 million? How can that possibly be construed as the success of all these 'wonderful managers' that Waterstones is now shedding? As James Daunt very elegantly says,Toby will be an asset to any company - very probably, but perhaps to a supermarket where he came from rather than the booktrade.

a daunting outlook for Waterstones, good luck. We really do hope you succeed.

By all accounts Toby Bourne is a popular and respected figure, but his more retail-driven approach clearly isn't what James Daunt wants.

In fairness to Bourne, he seemed to be trying to cater for all tastes - linksaves for the price-conscious and book prizes for the chattering classes. But the result didn't seem to fully satisfy anyone. I think that Waterstone's was too big and diverse for these central strategies to work.

If I was in James Daunt's shoes and had a remit to transform the business, I probably wouldn't want to retain the services of a person who was so closely associated with such a different approach, no matter how good they were.

Having worked in bookshops at both ends of the spectrum, I'd say that Toby Bourne's strategy made perfect sense in the mass market towns but, in some ways, alienated people in the heavy book buying areas. Broadsheet readers hate linksaves (he said, generalising without any real foundation). If James Daunt pushes the business too far in the other direction, then mass market customers will simply migrate to Smiths, Tesco and Amazon.

However, if Alexander Mamut's mission statement is fulfilled, you won't need a Toby Bourne in the future, because shops will have far more autonomy and be able to respond to their local market.

I for one think James Daunt on the right track. It was obvious that
there were far too many cooks running the show. We have tried
all manner of crazy ideas, and see no reason why we should not put our faith in someone who has been selling books for 20 years.

It is a relief to see that at last the supermarket men are departing (or being diplomatically encouraged to do so). After all this time they have still not got it: - that books are not lifeless products and that the book trade is not retail i.e. mass distribution. But what, they would say, do I know? I'm only a writer and former independent bookshop owner (not failed, but ended after 12 years due to the posting abroad of my partner) and now p/t Wstones bookseller. Of course James Daunt will have his hands full, but isn't it better to have one person with the right ideas rather than 15 with the wrong ones? One bad decision at the top gets amplified as it filters down through the endless middle managers, regional managers, store managers and their poor decision about who they employ. What is mad at the moment is that the wrong stuff is still going in the shop floor detail while Mr Daunt weeds out the top end. My mother used to say the fish stinks at the head and James Daunt seems to know it.

so that was the person who thought up linksaves, Asda hmmmmm