Johnson talking

<p>We are all entitled to talk out of our arses occasionally and Luke Johnson seems to have done just that when he <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/122400-high-street-booksellers-are-dea... in a recent interview</a> that &quot;the high street book store is doomed&quot;.</p>
<p>He clearly didn't have a particularly good time of it when he tried running one, and he should be applauded for at least giving it a go, but perhaps his experience is clouding his judgement a little.</p>
<p>I think the opposite is true. With the demise of Borders, as well as the gradual amoeba-like absorption of Dillons, Ottakar's etc, the high street has been cleared of competition and only one specialist chain remains.</p>
<p>And now that Waterstone's appears to be applying some radical thinking to how it sells books I reckon they could be set to clean up over the next decade.</p>
<p>The most encouraging sign since Dominic Myers took over is the reinvention of the Waterstone's logo. Sure we all scoffed when the new &quot;W&quot; was unveiled but they have brought it to life around the stores and elsewhere with a plethora of Google-like variations. It is striking, approachable, versatile and fun. Precisely how they need their brand to be viewed. By killing off the old logo Myers has made it clear that anything will be considered in order to fix what was wrong. It is a bold decision, but the right one.</p>
<p>And then you have the current move to return more autonomy to the stores. This is not just a token gesture. Everything from the books they stock right up to how much they charge for them appears to be up for grabs. It is proving to be popular and is another positive sign.</p>
<p>(One note of caution. If someone walks into a posh London branch for a copy of the new Josephine Cox novel and they don't have it then that will look pants. Just saying.)</p>
<p>It is, and has always been, a question of balance. Customers, in the main, want range, quality customer service and a selection of titles that is bespoke to their local store. But they also want a bargain, a chance to pick up a pile in the three-for-two and many need the reassurance that they won't find the same book for &pound;10 cheaper elsewhere.</p>
<p>If Waterstone's can get that balance right, and all the signs are that they are giving it a bloody good go, then there definitely is a future on the high street for their bookshops and many wonderful independents up and down the land. No matter what Luke Johnson thinks. So there.<br />
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