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"Waterstone's approach to buying must change" - Daunt

Waterstone's managing director James Daunt has told staff "its approach to buying must change" and said he plans a "complete overhaul" of the chain's infrastructure.

In an email to staff, Daunt said it was essential an “entrepreneurial bookselling spirit” returned to Waterstone’s, which will see shops and books being presented with “real flair.”

Since Daunt was appointed m.d. two weeks ago following the chain's takeover by Alexander Mamut's A&NN Group, commercial director Michael Neil, operations director Roger Childs and head of books Toby Bourne have left the company. He said: “The approach to buying must change and I have taken direct responsibility for the commercial team. I will be working closely with them, and with the shops, to ensure that as we enter the crucial final quarter of the year, we do so with our shops stocked to the best possible effect."

A Waterstone's spokesperson refused to expand on the content of the email. Waterstone's former m.d. Dominic Myers handed greater buying power over to stores but Daunt did not explicitly say whether he planned a move away from this. His email said: "It is essential that our shops continue to deserve the respect and loyalty of their customers. We will achieve this by presenting our shops, and the books within them, with real flair. This will require much greater local initiative by those of you in the shops, and an emphasis on assistance and best practice rather than prescription by those of us working to support the shops."

Daunt said he also planned to introduce a stock control and Epos system at Waterstone’s next year. He said: “Our infrastructure, from the state of our shops to our systems, needs a complete review and overhaul. We have started on essential work on the shops most in need. It will take longer to change our systems, but we have a clear intention to improve these radically.”

As reported in The Bookseller on Friday, restrictions on ordering have been lifted at the chain. Daunt said: "This should result in a rapid improvement which we will contine to build on through the autumn."

Daunt also said he believed the chain has "been left behind" by Amazon's digital offer and the chain needed as strong a digital presence online as it had on the high street. He said: "This particular war has only just begun and our shops—from the expertise of our booksellers to the loyalty we should command of our customers—is a hugely powerful resource when allied to a vigorous digital strategy."

Daunt has also made new appointments in head office. Along with Steve Clark as operations director, Helen Baker, formerly head of e-commerce and digital is now IT and e-commerce director and Ros Hines, formerly retail design manager, is now head of marketing at the company.

The email also revealed Mamut made his first visit to Waterstone's since acquiring the business. The bookseller's new owner visited the Piccadilly branch on 8th July.

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No offence to Dominic, but, to say he gave stores “greater buying power” is a bit of a joke. Unless “greater buying power” in this context means less titles and restrictions on stock and range.

surely waterstones needs a digital presence on the high st not just online ie downloads in store.

To be fair to Dominic, he spent much of last year trying to give stores greater buying power. The success of this was inconsistent across the company, and then financial pressures from above meant that there were restrictrictions put on stock and range.

"This will require much greater local initiative by those of you in the shops, and an emphasis on assistance and best practice rather than prescription by those of us working to support the shops."

Sounds like he plans to give *more* autonomy to the shops, not less.

Mr Myers said stores had more buying power, but booksellers could not order the necessary books without having ot justify each book ordered which then often did not appear - so this 'freedom' was obviously only talk. At the same time heaps of stock, in my sections the expensive quality stock was returned at ten times the rate as before, thus pilfering the sections to death. In one London branch I saw the equivalent of my own section with about 3 books to the yard, all falling over. So please -stop defending D.Myers' 'good work'.

What is still going on unfettered is the poaching of store customers, by some pre-Daunt initiative, to send a maximum of people who walk our floors to the Waterstones.com.site, whether we have the book in stock or not. Lately each bookseller has been wearing a gizmo especially designed to divert customers from the physical bookshops to the internet site. If this is such a great site, why can't they generate their own customers rather than try and steal mine??? This is a sure-fire way to kill bookshops even more quickly. And it shows no respect for people who actually take the trouble to go into them before looking on the net.

Andhow many more hoops will publishers and distributors be required to jump through as Waterstones conduct their "complete review and overhaul" of their shops and their systems. We've jumped through enough for the hub (which never delivered what was promised to the suppliers, the stores or Waterstone's customers)through to the never to be recirculated stores' returns. One's patience is heavily tried.

JBZ - In which store, exactly, has this happened? I've been to many, many Waterstone's stores and get the impression that the majority of their staff are well-read and interested in books. And no, I have never, ever had a member of staff come up to me and try and 'flog' me a DVD, mainly because Waterstone's don't actually DO DVDs.

JBZ has some solid rules for retail, but it is unlikely that McDonald's and Walmart style discipline will prevail at Waterstones or any physical book chain (too intrusive on the staff). You don't see McDonald's or Walmart people on cell phones OR expected to answer questions other than, point to "where" something is.

JBZ could have expanded more about his "book-browsing and book-buying experience" on Amazon. First, Amazon does not define themselves as a book store, though they do proclaim they are the largest. Second, they say they are a "software" company that uses that technology to provide their customers with suggestions--based on what others buy NOT upon what they "think," as book store people have been trained to do.

A recent example is our new Tom Walker mystery series, which is in our mind "similar" to Sue Grafton, Thomas Perry, and Patricia Highsmith. We put those names in "Key words" and low and behold fans of those three authors looked at our new series and many bought them as audiobooks (Amazon's audible runs the iTunes store for that) and eBooks (Kindle). The nicest news is some Tom Walker fans bought Grafton, Perry, and Highsmith (we admit we are very biased in their favor) because of Amazon's software based recommendations.

How is any book seller going to catch up with that kind of thing for books and audiobooks by a small publisher like us at www.simplymagazine.com.

As a consumer, they identified some great old Rex Stout books, the classic book on Canadian Poetry, and more.

Amazon is too far ahead on the e front. Waterstones should, as Peter Drucker famously said, "Focus for results" on physical books.

We all wish Waterstones great success. Taking on Amazon is not prone to help their cause.

Nikita R - Southend on Sea branch. They sell DVDs there. It's hardly HMV, but if I wanted to buy a Twilight DVD to HMV I would go. I don't really care that it has some link to a book. If HMV want to sell books that are also movies that's their prerogative. Doesn't mean Waterstones has to return the favour.

Though my original post appears to have disappeared. Was I too harsh about Waterstones? Does The Bookseller want to protect Waterstones from the dissatisfaction of its core market?

I certainly hope that JD will allow the shops more buying and decision power. As a publisher I've watched the continued decline of our sales with W over the last 4/5 years. We never did a great lot - some 60K a year - but it declined by half by 2009 and now I expect, in theses "Hub" days, 4K worth of sales in 2011 (6.6% of 2006).

This hasn't all gone to Amazon by any means (a lot to Book Depository though!!) but spread out across many competing independent booksellers in the same towns as W branches. This type of situation must have been very frustrating for the staff and I hope a new era is really coming that will see them, and their cherished professionalism, back at the centre of W bookselling

Not quite sure if Daunt grasps the concept of having almost 300 stores to run but the staff are all feeling pretty positive about all of this so far... fingers crossed, chin chin, chocks away, etc.

GBD, have you ever seen anything other than a hungry bookseller?

sorry am I missing something here, I don't remember being giving much power in the old days to do anything. I am not saying this to be unkind to the previous people in charge, its just a fact.

you haven't been into one of our stores for a while then?
We haven't had DVD's since November - I'm sure you've posted this before, if the staff member on their mobile was so irritating to you - why didn't you speak to the manager?
I was in Foyles a few days ago...I wouldn't say they are the shnining light when it comes to service!

The new epos systems look positive(apparently they could be based on the Barnes and Nobel system) anything would be an improvement!

they buying powers being returned to stores is great news, and as for staff they have already said there will be training - which can only mean more motivated staff.

Daunt has some big plans to change the foundations of the comapany. It's about time. This Dinosaur needs to evolve!

I found the stock-control system breathtakingly awful and incredibly inefficient, with an extremely dated interface. I'd been spoilt by the Ottakar's intranet and couldn't believe that people actually had to waste hours manually entering head office scale-out figures onto the system because there was no way of importing the data. But whenever I suggested that Phoenix was less than wonderful, I felt like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes.

So far James Daunt seems to be on exactly the right track and he's made some wise decisions about who to sack and who to keep. I hope that the morale in Waterstone's is now lifting after a very difficult time.

Buff orpington ,although I dislike Phoenix A LOT, I don't remember Ottakars having an epos system at all, let alone one to be missed.

The terrible regional bod's are still in their jobs and they do more damage than anyone else in the company.

Give it time - he's only been in his job for 2 weeks! he needs to see what isn't working and why before those sorts of things will happen!

@Buff Orpington & agatha christie. Phoenix is based on old software running on old IBM hardware and old Operating Systems - Designed before even the earliest version of Windows was around. Costs a fortune too. Trouble is it is still woven into the HMV (failing) 'Track' model.

Helen, as new IT Director is worth a punt, solid and ex Ottakars too. Indeed, the only IT person still standing from Ottakars.

Please, please don't get influenced by the HMV Shared Services Team in Marlow and think about re negotiating the hosted services contract. Break away from the ancient IBM GSA till system & its shot chip & pin solution and you stand a chance.

Dont forget, without a decent IT solution, I'd gaurantee that every poor bookseller would struggle to take a payment or know where the stock is on the shelves. Doubt the investment will be available for a real ecommerce presence - unfortunately the 'Hub' soaked all that up. Its also been a challenge to match Amazon - This conversation was going back 10 years!!

Ottakars did not have a central stock management system, their Epos was C&P based (a more advanced version of Ingenico) and the tills were DigiPos - There were some good points, but again the HMV influence at the time decided that GSA / Ingenico (old version) was best ....

Really hope it works out, but ensure that IT can deliver, bit of a problem with an IT Dept of 8?

No offence to Dominic, but, to say he gave stores “greater buying power” is a bit of a joke. Unless “greater buying power” in this context means less titles and restrictions on stock and range.

surely waterstones needs a digital presence on the high st not just online ie downloads in store.

Is this for real? I really hope that kiosks are not on any of James' plans.

conceptualise it how you like, if bookshops don't get a cut of the shift to digital then what's the point? the in-store experience that daunt justifies his continued existence with is transitional at best and notalgic at worst.

To be fair to Dominic, he spent much of last year trying to give stores greater buying power. The success of this was inconsistent across the company, and then financial pressures from above meant that there were restrictrictions put on stock and range.

"This will require much greater local initiative by those of you in the shops, and an emphasis on assistance and best practice rather than prescription by those of us working to support the shops."

Sounds like he plans to give *more* autonomy to the shops, not less.

Mr Myers said stores had more buying power, but booksellers could not order the necessary books without having ot justify each book ordered which then often did not appear - so this 'freedom' was obviously only talk. At the same time heaps of stock, in my sections the expensive quality stock was returned at ten times the rate as before, thus pilfering the sections to death. In one London branch I saw the equivalent of my own section with about 3 books to the yard, all falling over. So please -stop defending D.Myers' 'good work'.

What is still going on unfettered is the poaching of store customers, by some pre-Daunt initiative, to send a maximum of people who walk our floors to the Waterstones.com.site, whether we have the book in stock or not. Lately each bookseller has been wearing a gizmo especially designed to divert customers from the physical bookshops to the internet site. If this is such a great site, why can't they generate their own customers rather than try and steal mine??? This is a sure-fire way to kill bookshops even more quickly. And it shows no respect for people who actually take the trouble to go into them before looking on the net.

Andhow many more hoops will publishers and distributors be required to jump through as Waterstones conduct their "complete review and overhaul" of their shops and their systems. We've jumped through enough for the hub (which never delivered what was promised to the suppliers, the stores or Waterstone's customers)through to the never to be recirculated stores' returns. One's patience is heavily tried.

you haven't been into one of our stores for a while then?
We haven't had DVD's since November - I'm sure you've posted this before, if the staff member on their mobile was so irritating to you - why didn't you speak to the manager?
I was in Foyles a few days ago...I wouldn't say they are the shnining light when it comes to service!

Hello again JBZ whoever you are. You must be one unlucky person - twice so far - to have had a teenager playing with his phone in the history section trying to flog you vampire DVDs.
1. no staff have phones on the shopfloor
2. they would not try and flog vampires to people browsing in history
3. no DVDs in W.stones
But what do I know, I've only worked in 3 branches in 7 years.
No, I'm not management, just a part-timer who was very unhappy with the HMV supermarket boys and I've just been able, thanks to Mr.Daunt, to put in a large order for top quality stock for my section.

I've always found Foyles rather intimidating, stuffy and the staff quite unhelpful; on the odd occasion I've plucked up the courage few Foyles staff have bothered to look me in the eye or even take me personally to the section I can't find, prefering instead to point vaguely in the direction of where they think the book may reside, especially if it is on another floor.

Waterstone's staff in comparison - and I talk mainly about the Gower Street branch and sometimes Picadilly - have always been courteous, knowledgeable and very friendly on the tills. When I have needed to find some obscure book someone has always had the time to take me to the section, look with me and if they can't find the book they have looked it up on system. Perhaps the only thing that lets them down as a brand - and it's certainly not the staff's fault - is that ordering a book can take anything up to three weeks before it arrives, depending on the title. In the days of Amazon's next day service, I feel this is an area of "process and fulfilment" that needs addressing. I think what would help Waterstones to compete with Amazon is that if customers ordered a book at a store then there should be a system in place whereby the book is then delivered within 2-3 working days to the customer's home. This is effectively adopting the Amazon model but cuts out the antiquated system of having to go back to the store (if you don't want to, of course) when it might not be convenient.

For me, Waterstones' staff are amongst the best there are out there, and I really feel encouraged that Mr Daunt has taken over. I hope that for them and the stores the dark times of the previous management are gone, and yes, while there will be changes these will be for the better for both staff and consumer alike.

Thank you, Bookmark, for your praise of W'stones staff. What you describe is what I know from the stores I've worked in and yes, there are many, many good booksellers, even some great ones who have perservered despite the appalling handicaps put in their way. We are now hanging on by our fingernails, waiting for James Daunt to put things right - but if the changes don't come very soon, some of the best staff will not survive. We have been constantly embarrassed by our lack of stock. When the hub came in we were in agony when we had to quote delivery times - who ever thought it was a good idea to add another staging post between the book and the customer. We wondered if anyone ever honestly calculated the money we lost - our orders from store customers dropped by about 90%. We now are told to promise 48h delivery, but it's not happening consistently.

As for good service, I am often embarrassed by how much customers thank me when I'm trying to find the book they want or something else which might even be better. James Daunt is right - it's all about what a bookseller knows.
Please Mr Daunt
- stop all store intitiative until further orders (some regional managers, are still trying to mark every corner of their area to justify their existence)
- simplify the constant campaign changes, requiring thousands of staff hours on stickering, when one notice in the shop window would suffice.
- what's wrong with saying : -monday, all kids books 342, or 10% off.
That would bring the customers from the street into the shops rather than blinding them with thousands of shelf skirt and stickers. Those staff hours could be spent improving stock, section merchandising, and most of all, paying maximum attention to customers who, at the moment, feel they are disturbing staff when they see them walking around with wads of return sheets in their hand.

I hardly ever defend Waterstones (being an ex-employee, and now owner of an independent bookshop) but does JBZ actually know who James Daunt is? Has he ever shopped in Daunts' shops? - they are beautiful and staffed with passionate and well-read people. Also, the fact that so many Waterstones staff complain about the way their sections have deteriorated due to old buying procedures indicates that there are a few members of staff in the chain who care about books, and would love the opportunity to return to 'hand-selling' and re-stocking their sections (as I am lucky enough to do everyday).

I think Mr JBZ doesn't know whether he is in Waterstones or in an HMV shop. I can't imagine him going into Daunt's bookshop, he would probably think he's landed in a library.

You are an idiot. Waterstones staff don't have mobile phones on the shop floor, nowadays Watertstones rarely stock DVDs, most of their staff are not teenagers and to suggest that they don't read books is just plain ignorant. I'm guessing you work for Foyle's.

JBZ - In which store, exactly, has this happened? I've been to many, many Waterstone's stores and get the impression that the majority of their staff are well-read and interested in books. And no, I have never, ever had a member of staff come up to me and try and 'flog' me a DVD, mainly because Waterstone's don't actually DO DVDs.

JBZ has some solid rules for retail, but it is unlikely that McDonald's and Walmart style discipline will prevail at Waterstones or any physical book chain (too intrusive on the staff). You don't see McDonald's or Walmart people on cell phones OR expected to answer questions other than, point to "where" something is.

JBZ could have expanded more about his "book-browsing and book-buying experience" on Amazon. First, Amazon does not define themselves as a book store, though they do proclaim they are the largest. Second, they say they are a "software" company that uses that technology to provide their customers with suggestions--based on what others buy NOT upon what they "think," as book store people have been trained to do.

A recent example is our new Tom Walker mystery series, which is in our mind "similar" to Sue Grafton, Thomas Perry, and Patricia Highsmith. We put those names in "Key words" and low and behold fans of those three authors looked at our new series and many bought them as audiobooks (Amazon's audible runs the iTunes store for that) and eBooks (Kindle). The nicest news is some Tom Walker fans bought Grafton, Perry, and Highsmith (we admit we are very biased in their favor) because of Amazon's software based recommendations.

How is any book seller going to catch up with that kind of thing for books and audiobooks by a small publisher like us at www.simplymagazine.com.

As a consumer, they identified some great old Rex Stout books, the classic book on Canadian Poetry, and more.

Amazon is too far ahead on the e front. Waterstones should, as Peter Drucker famously said, "Focus for results" on physical books.

We all wish Waterstones great success. Taking on Amazon is not prone to help their cause.

Hello, Mr Brown

I might be jumping the gun (let's hope not) but, now we no longer have to keep shareholders happy, and can concentrate on making our shops enticing, interesting places, with a great range, small publishers can only benefit. I have always championed independent and small publishers, and (now that buying restrictions have been lifted, and autonomy is coming back to the branches) I've already started adding such titles to my sections. Mr Daunt also seems to really like and support author events, and I predict you will find many more opportunities in the future to showcase and launch your authors in Waterstone's.

Nikita R - Southend on Sea branch. They sell DVDs there. It's hardly HMV, but if I wanted to buy a Twilight DVD to HMV I would go. I don't really care that it has some link to a book. If HMV want to sell books that are also movies that's their prerogative. Doesn't mean Waterstones has to return the favour.

Though my original post appears to have disappeared. Was I too harsh about Waterstones? Does The Bookseller want to protect Waterstones from the dissatisfaction of its core market?

Unfortunately, though I take your point about sullying the purity of the book-buying experience with other related formats such as DVDs and Blu-Rays, I think you have to understand that the market forces that decree the buying experience i.e, the customer, are coming to expect a one-stop shop for their fix, be it Twilight, Harry Potter or Margaret Atwood. I do wonder if there is an element of snobbery in your ideals, and dare I say it if one of Doris Lessing's books, say The Cleft, were made into an Oscar winning film would you have the same down-the-nose attitude toward seeing a couple of copies of that film next to its parent literature? I, personally, have no problem with other formats of entertainment subtly and respectfully sold in Waterstones - frankly, whatever drives people into the stores and keeps the staff in business, engaging with their customers can only be a good thing. Gone are the days of fusty, dusty bookstores that sell vintage copies of The Odyssey or The Iliad... in comes a new generation who are demanding fulfilment in real-time, not, it seems, JBZ time.

I certainly hope that JD will allow the shops more buying and decision power. As a publisher I've watched the continued decline of our sales with W over the last 4/5 years. We never did a great lot - some 60K a year - but it declined by half by 2009 and now I expect, in theses "Hub" days, 4K worth of sales in 2011 (6.6% of 2006).

This hasn't all gone to Amazon by any means (a lot to Book Depository though!!) but spread out across many competing independent booksellers in the same towns as W branches. This type of situation must have been very frustrating for the staff and I hope a new era is really coming that will see them, and their cherished professionalism, back at the centre of W bookselling

Not quite sure if Daunt grasps the concept of having almost 300 stores to run but the staff are all feeling pretty positive about all of this so far... fingers crossed, chin chin, chocks away, etc.

GBD, have you ever seen anything other than a hungry bookseller?

sorry am I missing something here, I don't remember being giving much power in the old days to do anything. I am not saying this to be unkind to the previous people in charge, its just a fact.

The new epos systems look positive(apparently they could be based on the Barnes and Nobel system) anything would be an improvement!

they buying powers being returned to stores is great news, and as for staff they have already said there will be training - which can only mean more motivated staff.

Daunt has some big plans to change the foundations of the comapany. It's about time. This Dinosaur needs to evolve!

I found the stock-control system breathtakingly awful and incredibly inefficient, with an extremely dated interface. I'd been spoilt by the Ottakar's intranet and couldn't believe that people actually had to waste hours manually entering head office scale-out figures onto the system because there was no way of importing the data. But whenever I suggested that Phoenix was less than wonderful, I felt like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes.

So far James Daunt seems to be on exactly the right track and he's made some wise decisions about who to sack and who to keep. I hope that the morale in Waterstone's is now lifting after a very difficult time.

Buff orpington ,although I dislike Phoenix A LOT, I don't remember Ottakars having an epos system at all, let alone one to be missed.

The terrible regional bod's are still in their jobs and they do more damage than anyone else in the company.

Give it time - he's only been in his job for 2 weeks! he needs to see what isn't working and why before those sorts of things will happen!

@Buff Orpington & agatha christie. Phoenix is based on old software running on old IBM hardware and old Operating Systems - Designed before even the earliest version of Windows was around. Costs a fortune too. Trouble is it is still woven into the HMV (failing) 'Track' model.

Helen, as new IT Director is worth a punt, solid and ex Ottakars too. Indeed, the only IT person still standing from Ottakars.

Please, please don't get influenced by the HMV Shared Services Team in Marlow and think about re negotiating the hosted services contract. Break away from the ancient IBM GSA till system & its shot chip & pin solution and you stand a chance.

Dont forget, without a decent IT solution, I'd gaurantee that every poor bookseller would struggle to take a payment or know where the stock is on the shelves. Doubt the investment will be available for a real ecommerce presence - unfortunately the 'Hub' soaked all that up. Its also been a challenge to match Amazon - This conversation was going back 10 years!!

Ottakars did not have a central stock management system, their Epos was C&P based (a more advanced version of Ingenico) and the tills were DigiPos - There were some good points, but again the HMV influence at the time decided that GSA / Ingenico (old version) was best ....

Really hope it works out, but ensure that IT can deliver, bit of a problem with an IT Dept of 8?

This is the key, IT development by HMV has been shocking for W booksellers, millions spent on the W.com white elephant whilst booksellers walk around in purple t-shirts punting an awful service at the expense of their own job and credibilty.

Reasons why we have gone down the pan in recent years ?

Crap systems and crap management.

Good Luck James.

FT86's comments are hopefully acted upon.

Ohhh i love it when you talk EPOS

Thanks for this FT86 - it's good to have a comment about the IT from someone who clearly knows what they're talking about. I didn't realise that it was even more antiquated than I'd thought. I've seen Commodore 64s with better graphics. Hammicks had a great EPOS system (so I'm told) but sadly it was scrapped by Ottakar's.

And no, Ottakar's didn't have an EPOS system, which is one of the reasons why James Heneage tried to take the company back in to private ownership - he said he wanted to have the freedom to work on long-tern projects without being hampered by the short-term demands of the City.

In many ways, the sophisticated reporting tools of the Ottakar's intranet were almost as good as a full EPOS system and books were far easier to track down than they were under Phoenix.

I couldn't agree more: a decent IT solution is essential.

I have to agree and say that in my humble opinion the Ottakars systems were much better than a full EPOS system because they weren't so reliable on computer generated data and there was an element of the human built in. I'm not saying this very well but even the best computer system is useless if you have ordinary people using it and corrupting the data. With the Ottakar's systems the staff were much more involved in the whole experience. It was a support to the job rather than the b-all and end-all and you got much better-informed booksellers from the process.

bookish- training doesnt motivate staff, the training we have had in the past year has been woeful and embarrassing. staff do not need to be told how to stand or harrass staff, we need a flipping payrise.

jbz- we don't have mobiles on the shop floor and everyone who works in my branch has book knowledge, just because sothend on sea is awful doesnt mean the rest of is.

cant wait to see the rapid improvment, i'll keep watching, and waiting...

Not true...PROPER training (not being talked at) can be really motivating.
Other companies I have worked for run regular training programes for all staff, giving them the confidence to do their jobs, network across the comapny and you get everyone on the same page.
I was at a LP meeting recently - hardly any of the managers there were confident of the proceedures for discaplinaries - that is worrying.
ALL the team should feel confident they can deal with any situation at present this isn't happening.
I've been a manager for over a year - I've had no proper training for my role...it's shocking.

@bookish. Why are Waterstones managers discussing disciplinary procedures as a matter of importance in meetings right now ?

Bookish. It's also shocking you are a bookshop manager yet you cannot spell 'disciplinaries', 'programmes', 'company', or 'procedures'. You may well need training, but you definitely need a dictionary.

What works best in training new and less knowledgeable staff is when the best people are given the authority / task to pass on their knowledge as they work on the shopfloor. In the branches I've worked in this was an absolute no-no - apparently for the sake of equality. Sitting people down in a group and talking abstracts simply doesn't work. I'm sorry, but we are not all made/born or otherwise equal - those of us who know most and have learnt most should be paired up with those who are beginners. This way you treat each situation as it occurs and the learning is very specific.

Giving control back to the store sounds like a wonderful idea in my eyes. I also support 50scent's suggesstion of a way to purchase and download e-books instore.

Another thing to focus on would be things that online retailers can't do. Promote the 'experience' of going in, and browsing the shelves, finding a book you might never have heard of, or having a staff member / other customer recommend it, reading a couple of pages there and then and buying it. Yes, you can 'browse' online and you can 'read a sample' online. But these aren't quite the same.There's something about being able to open a book to a random page and know if it's for you.

It's something Amazon et al can't do. They can give samples, but the publisher gets to choose those if they happen and what they are. Amazon can recommend, but due to its 'What others have bought' slant, it's biased towards popular titles. Even staff who are widely-read in one genre can usually find a lesser known book that suits me.

[Naturally, this assumes that stores will start stocking variety again - it has improved slightly recently, but it's still the 'big names' who dominate the shelves].

Or, how about drawing in new readers? Those who haven't read in a long time? A selection of titles that can serve as a cream of the genre. If Amazon has no idea what you read, then they can't really recommend anything personalised to you. A short flick through a book or two from the genre can often point you in the right direction.

And finally, what I feel would be the most controversial idea (which is almost another topic entirely) would be to provide a bridge between the physical bookstore and the digital life. Essentially the idea is this: Buy a physical book, from the bookstore, and get a digital copy from Waterstones.com (free or at a discount) - I'm aware just how many things would have to be negotiated for this to work, not least of which is getting the publishers (of all formats) to agree to it. But it's something that frustrates me - I bought the paper copy, now to read it on my ereader I have to buy it again?!

A lot of people are making the switch to digital, so to keep them in stores requires that you provide a reason for them to be there.

What a lot of people may not realise is that booksellers haven't been able to order stock since January. And still we have the RM and BM who talk about standards and systems when ... THERE AREN@T ANY!!! Less time on discipline and poor managemnet, more time on booksellers and getting the company back on it's feet please .

Um... I've been ordering stock for my sections just fine and they are all up on the company sales every month.
Booksellers like to moan, but few seem willing to do their actual job.
Stop whining, interact with customers, and get on with it!

You don't run this company.
If you don't like it, quit.

Oh, re. payrise.
Do any of you REALLY think a payrise is on the cards any time soon?
Really?
If so, you're all deluded.

Please tell us where you work and why you've been so happy with everything that has landed W'stones in the proverbial ....

3% pay rise and a statement that "the era of no or minimal rayrises is over" In your fac e Dolenz!

3% pay rise and a statement that "the era of no or minimal rayrises is over" In your face Dolenz!

Dolenz, what a harsh view of the world around you you seem to have.You come over as a smug Mr Perfect who does'nt value his colleauges very highly, chill out a bit.It's not only booksellers who like to moan, its the human race, and frankly with what Waterstones booksellers have had to put up with over the last 18 months I think their allowed a little moan, that does'nt make them less worthy as people or booksellers, there are many many great booksellers in Waterstones, and frankly the pay rate below Assistant manager is very poor, Tesco checkout staff earn more per hour.A miniscul pay rise this year would go a long way in raising moral and giving staff hope that a new era has arrived.Good luck to all decent booksellers out there and actually if any one should be quitting it should be the bullies and mean-spirited!

I'm not one who puts a payrise first - it's the working methods and conditions that need to be fixed. But just as a little pointer:
- W'stones pay someone like me after 7 years p/t bookselling just £6.18
- Aldi were looking for shop staff - £8.75 - £10 p.h.

Inhe way the shops have been run by both Jerry and Dominic there was little difference between Aldi box-stackers and us, the book-stackers, except that we needed, and were expected by customers to know about everything and have read every book in the store. That is like asking everyone at Aldi's to have eaten/tried every product in the shop.

If it makes no difference to you what you sell, work in Aldi. the trouble is that most booksellers care incredibly about books (with the exception of those who seem to have served the luck-less JDZ or some such). The brainless comment that 'booksellers should just start working' seems to come from the previous management or from those who were totally institutionalised by the slogan-spouting middle-managers or the RM brownosers.

Lidle and Aldi also make you work 60+hours a week - my friend works there and is hating everysecond of it!

I would like to see some fairness with money - rather than a blanket payrise...we should have a yearly appraisal system, the great workers get rewarded and the dead wood gets nothing.
It can be based on the current CDP system (with some moderfacation) then a sliding percentage scale so if your amazing you get a 5% payrise if you good 3% if your ok 1% if your poor or below you get nothing until the following year.

I'm really excited about the opportunities now opening up for Waterstone's, with a new approach to buying, a new pair of directors (I've worked for HB and SC and found them both to be inspirational in different ways) and the imminent demise of Phoenix is almost enough to break out the champers for.

If I still worked at the W, I'd be really fired up by all this. But I don't, so I can afford to be objective, unlike a lot of posters in this thread. Cheer up, everyone, no-one wants to buy a book from an old grumpy.

Dolenz is right about pay. As ex-W, and now redundant courtesy of another bookseller vanishing, i can tell you guys straight that the minimum wage is a target more than a legal requirement out here. I lost £150 a month when i had to leave the big W, and i now know that even the place i went to paid better than a lot of the High Street are now. Get real, wise up and grasp the fact that there's an economic crisis happening. As various other posters have pointed out,there are bigger priorities to spend money on at Waterstones than giving an already (comparatively)decently paid staff another rise.Unless you'll accept redundancies and closures to pay for it...
Barbarella, have you not noticed that Tesco is a company making multi, multi million pound profits, whilst Waterstones has just been treading water. That's how they pay their staff better. When Waterstones starts turning a big fat profit,then ask for a rise.I suggest that people complaining about pay have a look at what's on offer in the real world...