Indies express dismay as Waterstones starts selling Super Thursday titles early

Indies express dismay as Waterstones starts selling Super Thursday titles early

Independent booksellers have expressed concerns that Waterstones has been selling Super Thursday titles ahead of their publication date.

Super Thursday, which takes place today (4th October), is the day publishers launch what they hope will be their Christmas bestsellers and this year more than 544 new hardbacks will be hitting shelves - 40 more than last year’s event.

Titles slated for release tomorrow include a memoir by Gary Barlow, non-fiction from Sir David Attenborough, Tim Peake and Jo Brand, novels from Eoin Colfer, Liane Moriarty and Peter James and children’s fiction from Liz Pichon and Jacqueline Wilson.

However, independent booksellers have told The Bookseller they are concerned about Waterstones breaking the 4th October embargo and selling Super Thursday titles ahead of the big day. On Tuesday (2nd October) Waterstones Camberley tweeted: “So many wonderful books today… The highly anticipated new Tracy Beaker book from Jacqueline Wilson… Here’s proof of the new Ian Rankin and Bernard Cornwell,” alongside cover images for those books. Wilson’s My Mum Tracy Beaker, Rankin’s In a House of Lies and Cornwell’s War of the Wolf are all Super Thursday titles.

In response to the concerns, Waterstones m.d. James Daunt said: “Embargoes on key titles are agreed with publishers and both welcomed and respected by Waterstones. Excitement around the launch date is enhanced and we sell more books. For most books, however, customers asking for a book should be sold it. Otherwise we simply send the customer to Amazon. This is as true, of course, for independent booksellers as for Waterstones.

“Are the right titles always embargoed? Not always. Too many generally, for the Amazon reason, and sometimes one or two might have benefited from the 'woomph' of a launch. Overall, however, we think the balance is right and very much better thought through than was the case a few years ago.”

Last year 62.8 million books were sold for £551.9m between 7th October and 24th December through Nielsen BookScan. Around a third of the market’s annual volume sales come in the final quarter of the year.