Waterstones’ Buy Books for Syria campaign surpasses half-way mark

Waterstones’ Buy Books for Syria campaign surpasses half-way mark

Waterstones has hit the half-way point in its Buy Books for Syria campaign, having raised £500,000 through book sales to help those affected by the conflict in the Middle East.

The bookshop chain launched a campaign on 25th September to raise £1m for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal by selling books from a range of publishers and authors under a Buy Books for Syria banner, with 100% of the retail price going to the charity.

The chain has reached the half-way mark seven weeks into the campaign, surpassing £500,000 worth of book sales.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, told The Bookseller: “We are delighted to be sending to Oxfam the first £500,000 of the money raised by the Buy Books for Syria initiative. Over the coming weeks at this wonderfully busy time of year we look forward to selling the remainder of the books so generously contributed by publishers. We are hugely grateful for the support of the publishers concerned; for the continuing efforts of our booksellers; and of course also to our customers who have been buying the books.”

Among the top-selling titles from the batch on offer include The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams (HarperCollins), We are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail), Question Everything: New Scientist (Profile Books), The Blackhouse by Peter May (Quercus), The Thread by Victoria Hislop (Headline), Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (Egmont), Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders (Faber), That’s Not My Donkey by Fiona Watt (Usborne), Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (Penguin) and Killing Floor by Lee Child (Transworld).

The original idea for the campaign came from Profile Books editor Mark Ellingham. When the campaign launched, Daunt said Waterstones was committed to launching the appeal despite the run-up to Christmas being the industry’s most lucrative time of the year.

He told The Bookseller that “some, perhaps most” of the sales would substitute “sales upon which otherwise we would be earning money” in the run-up to Christmas but added that the company was “very fortunate to have an owner [Russian businessman Alexander Mamut] and board who have put this to one side and supported the initiative”.

Daunt added: “In desperate times like these, everyone feels the need to do something, to help in some way. We are doing what we do best— bookselling—and it only feels right that every single penny of each book sold will go straight to Oxfam. We are proud to be able transform the generosity of authors and publishers into such a substantial contribution to Oxfam’s work.”

More than 200,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria. More than 11 million citizens have fled their homes and more than four million are believed to be living in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. In Syria more than 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance such as water, food and shelter, Oxfam reports.