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Caro

Waterstones

There has been a lot of criticism about bookshops in England in these forums, so I was interested to go to the Sheffield Waterstones and see what a wonderful bookshop it is.  The fiction shelves went right round the quite large shop, and there were shelves of love poetry (mostly because of Valentine's day) which included Hardy's poems, Burns' poems, and numerous anthologies. Upstairs I presume had mot of the non-fiction but we didn't make it there.  Another day.

I felt this shop compared quite favourably with the University bookshops in NZ which have a very wide range of academic and literary works.  The readers of Sheffield are very lucky, I think.  

Cheers, Caro.
Apple

I've always liked Waterstones and and never failed to find what I've wanted in there, or if its been out of stock they have happily ordered what I wanted.

How are you enjoying the UK Caro? the weather hasn't been too bad the past couple of days which is a bonus especially at this time of year.
TheRejectAmidHair

The two branches of Waterstones I tend to go to are the Staines branch, and the Bracknell branch. They’re both quite small, and I personally don’t find much of interest in their in-store stock. However, the staff are invariably friendly and helpful, and, in my experience at least, very efficient with orders. I have ordered books from both branches frequently, and have always received good service.

I don’t know how big the Sheffield branch is, but the larger branches are generally pretty good for browsing. The big Waterstones near London University, for instance, is a delight. The Manchester branch on Deansgate used to be pretty good too, but when I went there after Christmas, I found that the stock had declined significantly both in terms of quantity and of quality. I suppose one can’t blame them: they are a commercial organization after all, and when times are hard they will naturally aim to satisfy first the more profitable end of the market.

But I don’t understand why they don’t do profile-matching when they send out the e-mails. It shouldn’t be too hard to trawl through the purchases I have made, and then tempt me with the sort of book I am likely to want to read. But instead, I regularly receive e-mails from Waterstones offering me titles I wouldn’t want to read in a million years!

Bookshop-browsing is still for me one of the loveliest ways of spending a day, and I generally tend to do it either in the big Blackwells in Oxford; or in Central London, where I have a choice between the Waterstones near the university, Foyles, Hatchards, and the smaller (but very well-stocked) Blackwells on Charing Cross Road.
MikeAlx

I find Eastbourne Waterstones virtually useless, save for children's books. The Brighton branch is much bigger and better stocked, though I still often struggle to find what I'm after - and I'm not talking just about obscure books, but well-regarded classics. However, the internet is so good for tracking books down, it's really changed everything, and is probably part of the reason why bookshops have focused more floorspace on the big sellers.

I remember in the late 80s and early 90s I could only get certain books by going to the huge flagship bookshops in London (Foyles, Blackwells or Waterstones in Charing Cross Road), and in one case by writing directly to the publisher!
Green Jay

The Brighton Waterstone's isn't too bad but they don't seem to keep authors' backlists on the shelves unless there is some current bit of publicity going for them. There's a huge crime section, almost as big as the mainstream fiction bit. The gardening and wildlife part has been cut back greatly so that it only seems to have the blockbuster authors who are on TV, not any unusual or classic ones. I've never been in the Eastbourne branch, but the Chichester one is on lots of floors and very good.

The Sussex Stationers chain in the south-east seems to be closing down, which is a pity. They had what must have been a costly refit only last year or so, which dumbed the look of them down rather. More concentration on magazines and giftwrap, ended up like the dreaded W H Smith. You often had to go through all this gift-y guff to get to the main book section, as if book buyers should be hidden at the back of the shop. BUt I liked them because although their list was not very comprehensive, they did cut the price down a bit on each book, they didn't suck you into those quite pricey 3 for 2 offers where you never want the 3rd book as much as the others. And they were very good on cooking, gardening and maps & guidebooks. I've always bought quite a lot there...obviously not enough!

It must be due to Amazon and e-books. I wonder if we will have anywhere where we can actually handle and flip through a book in future? And I don't mean virtual flipping.
Rebecca

I used to spend hours in Brighton's Waterstones. 22 British Bookshops stores have bought by he dreaded W H Smiths.
Green Jay

I wonder if that explains why they turned out looking just like Smith's, Yasmin? Is that a buy-out just now, or back last year?
Rebecca

it was announced on Tuesday
MikeAlx

Yes, I liked Sussex Stationers/British Bookshops, and will be sorry to see them go. I suspect they've been shot from both sides - the internet at one end of their market, and the supermarkets at the other end. I doubt WHS will be taking over the little branch in our town, particularly since there's already a (very small) WH Smiths.
Rebecca

Mike, is City Books still in Hove? It was in between my work and the Post Office and used to make me veer of course on the way.
Caro

My daughter-in-law suggested that supermarkets were the best place to buy books, which horrified me.  Supermarkets should stick to food, if that, and I do not look at books in them.

Round the corner from where they live is a children's book shop with children's books crammed in everywhere.  I spent some time there this afternoon thinking I could buy a board book of nursery rhymes for my grandson, but they were too dear at £4.99 or so.  However, somehow a little book of Sheffield history wasn't too dear for me at £9.99!

Cheers, Caro.
Jen M

Just before Christmas, my local Waterstones gave up part of their ground floor to Paperchase (I think they are part of the same group).  This has reduced their bookselling space considerably, which is a shame.

The town has had a branch of British Bookshops for a few months; that is now closing down, and the WH Smith (which I used to love, back in the 80s) has turned part of their top floor into a Post Office.
Green Jay

Yasmin wrote:
Mike, is City Books still in Hove? It was in between my work and the Post Office and used to make me veer of course on the way.


Yasmin, City Books is still there! They are very helpful and informative, but when I tried to order a Christmas present book through them they suffered delivery problems from the supplier, and in the end I found it on Amazon. I did feel guilty but needed it in time, and despite snow it arrived on Christmas Eve. City Books often run the bookstall at various literary festivals I've attended in the South East, good for them - I imagine this helps to keep them solvent. I always try to buy something from them then.
Rebecca

Green Jay wrote:
Yasmin wrote:
Mike, is City Books still in Hove? It was in between my work and the Post Office and used to make me veer of course on the way.


Yasmin, City Books is still there! They are very helpful and informative, but when I tried to order a Christmas present book through them they suffered delivery problems from the supplier, and in the end I found it on Amazon. I did feel guilty but needed it in time, and despite snow it arrived on Christmas Eve. City Books often run the bookstall at various literary festivals I've attended in the South East, good for them - I imagine this helps to keep them solvent. I always try to buy something from them then.


Ah...then there is hope for mankind yet Surprised)
Evie

Grrr...  I have just been, supposedly as a treat in the middle of a stressful time, to have a browse in Waterstone's in Leamington - I have about £15 left on a book token that I wanted to spend.  I struggled to find anything I wanted to buy, but was quite happy browsing...until assistants kept coming up and asking me if I needed any help - when I said no, they would ask if I was looking for something specific, or a particular author, etc...I said no a bit more firmly, but when the third one asked me and then wouldn't go away, I am afraid I told them to leave me alone, and left the shop.

The joy of going into a bookshop is the browsing experience - most things (price, choice, etc) are better online.  But if they take away the pleasure of browsing, and spending a bit of time looking at books, then a bookshop loses much of its advantage.

I do at least still have a local independent bookshop - the stock is not great (so browsing is quite a quick activity!), but it is a small shop, and they are very good at ordering things quickly; they also have a wonderful selection of cards and other nice stationery and bits and pieces (those nice Penguin mugs, for example).
Castorboy

Caro, you may have heard that Whitcoulls and Borders were put in voluntary administration in Australia and NZ. Their parent company REDgroup Retail said the ususal thing about hoping to trade out of trouble but it doesn't look good. Whitcoull's is such a household name.
Apple

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
Grrr...  I have just been, supposedly as a treat in the middle of a stressful time, to have a browse in Waterstone's in Leamington - I have about £15 left on a book token that I wanted to spend.  I struggled to find anything I wanted to buy, but was quite happy browsing...until assistants kept coming up and asking me if I needed any help - when I said no, they would ask if I was looking for something specific, or a particular author, etc...I said no a bit more firmly, but when the third one asked me and then wouldn't go away, I am afraid I told them to leave me alone, and left the shop.
Its probably not their fault I'd bet they are told to do this in the name of customer service, by the powers that be who have no real idea about customer service except from some training manual and how it actually works in the real world! Then you get the over zealous assistants added to the mix and it just all goes horribly wrong!
John Q

Yes I experienced something similar in Waterstones, being asked if I needed help on different floors and on the same day.  It is unsettling, and yes your instinct is to leave immediately.  But Apple is right I think, staff are obviously under instructions to be more ‘aggressive,’ people must not be allowed to wander as they like in  bookshops seems to be  the new thinking. Oh well back to the library. Is it still open?   No staff to challenge you there, in fact hardly any staff at all.    Smile
Apple

John Q Wrote:
Quote:
Oh well back to the library. Is it still open?   No staff to challenge you there, in fact hardly any staff at all.    
and if the Government has its way with all the cuts no libraries either!
Apple

I actually went to a Waterstones today just to see if the practice of hounding customers was the norm or just one branches over zealous staff - now bearing in mind the branch I went to has only one floor is the tiniest place I have ever been in, in my life and there were two members of staff that I could see in the shop one was at one end the other at the other of the shop floor, I stopped briefly by 3 for 2 section and one swooped on me like a demented hawk swooping on its prey, can I help you are you ok is there anything I can find for you all came out in quick succession without giving me chance to reply. I moved towards the area where the other assistant was prowling around and even though she had seen and heard me say no thanks I'm ok to the first assistant (yes the shop is that small) she also came in just to check that in the few seconds it had taken me to walk the 100 feet or so towards her I hadn't suddenly become in desperate need of her help. So given John also had a similar experience, my initial theory of it being a directive from the Waterstones powers that be is correct. So don't blame the poor assistants as the problem lies with the management issuing pointless directives in the name of customer service!
Evie

Thanks for your comments, it's good to know it wasn't that I looked suspicious or anything!!  I did go back the next day and bought some books, and no one asked if they could help, though it was a Saturday and there was a queue.  The shop was packed, so I hope Waterstone's will survive a bit longer!

We now have self-issue and self-return in our local library, so that may be a way of getting rid of most of the staff all together...at least we still have a library (even if it is pretty rubbish).
Chibiabos83

Libraries aren't safe from these vultures either - since Cambridge Central Library was revamped, there are at any time several members of staff prowling, waiting to pounce on people to offer 'help'. It's in their job description. I'm sure there are many patrons who appreciate the attention when it's offered in a kind spirit, and particularly if they're new to libraries or reading and don't know what books they like yet - but for experienced library users it must be offputting. It points up the stupidity of having a policy that treats everyone the same. If you have a hands-off approach the newbies get lost, if you have a hands-on approach the oldies get alienated. Far better for staff to exercise discretion, but not everybody has that. I haven't been approached yet, but I'm not a browser - I check they've got what I want before I go in, then grab it and get out Smile
Jen M

Our local council has said that it is keeping our libraries and continuing to invest in some of them - some of the "improvements" made a few years ago were not necessarily improvements, but if they have saved sufficient money to retain the library service, that is something to be grateful for.

On the other hand, and moving away from books (sorry to derail the thread), the council have decided to review music provision in schools and the council Music Service (which includes a Saturday Music School with many orchestras, bands and choirs who perform to a very high standard).  I have been told that most of the music staff are being made redundant at the end of the academic year.  Both my children and many others have benefited greatly from the service - in terms of building confidence and making lasting friendships as well as learning to play music. I'll get off my high horse now - I have already emailed my local councillors.  This would be a huge loss.   Sad.
Apple

The sad fact is everything is being cut, which was inevitable as soon as the government changed. Its a pattern which gets repeated and has been repeated over and over again through the years - Torys cut and neglect services and bring the country to its knees so Labour gets in chucks money at everything left right and centre to reinvest and try to bring services up to scratch, spends all the money (plus a bit more) bringing the country to its knees and the whole cycle starts again. Slightly simplistic way of looking at it I know and obviously there is more to it than that but it's the basic jist of it as I see it.

At least they have u turned on the forest sale's so we will still be able to walk in the countryside if we want to, I was beginning to think that they wouldn't be happy until everything was slashed and we would be left with no alternative but all sitting at home with the lights off  Wink
Evie

I know, that was great news about the forests, wasn't it.  There is so little good news at the moment that I celebrated that one!  At least we are not fighting for our lives on the streets or being buried by earthquakes...
Jen M

Apple, we said much the same as you to my teenager recently when talking about all this.  I wonder whether the voting system will change, and if so, if the cycle of cuts and spending will change.  I agree that it was good news about the forests.

Back to bookshops - our town's fairly new British Bookshops is closing on Saturday.  There are lots of bargains to be had, but sadly, there was nothing that appealed to me yesterday.  I would rather have the bookshop continue, though.
Apple

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
At least we are not fighting for our lives on the streets or being buried by earthquakes...
Amen to that! Yes Britain may have its faults but at least we are allowed to speak our minds without fear of aircraft strafing us and we don't get earth shattering (literally) occurrences like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes - it puts a few bookshops closing and library services cuts into perspective really!

(not that I was belittling the closure of the bookshop Jen mentioned)

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