On Monday I shall be on BBC Radio Scotland’s Book Cafe programme (ooh – get me!) and one of the things they apparently want me to have an opinion on is what bookish trend we’ll see in 2010. I think they mean in terms of books that are published in which case I hope to see more literary fiction and good non-fic and less sleb chefs and C-list sleb biogs. And I hope that people realise that buying a book ‘written by’ Katie Price merely demonstrates that they have an IQ in single figures. And are quite common. Just like her then*.
I’ll have to give this some thought before Monday, especially as I’m on the programme with Stuart Kelly, Literary Editor of Scotland on Sunday, but I do have one prediction. It’s something that struck me a few weeks ago when I read about Waterstone’s falling profits. If Waterstone’s continues to depress the overall performance of the HMV group, it doesn’t take much to realise that the parent company will reorganise it. It may be hived off, bought out by venture capitalists asset strippers and implode as Borders has recently done.
Alternatively, given that the best performing areas of Waterstone’s are in non-book areas such as stationery and E-readers, and the worst performing are books due to constantly reduced margins as the chain tries to compete with Amazon, HMV might absorb some branches into their record shops (are they called record shops now that no-one buys records any more?). It has already been mentioned on The Bookseller’s website by one commenter on a thread about Borders that in Newcastle the store has been bought and “it will be an HMV with a small Waterstone’s included in store” (thanks to Book Monkey for pointing that out).
Might this be the one of the first indicators that Waterstone’s presence on the High Street will be shrinking as Gerry Johnson’s bosses realise that a policy of cutting prices to the bone and still seeing falling sales isn’t maybe the way forward? Retaining market share shouldn’t come at the cost of increasing losses. Maybe the route to profitability is to reduce range still further, shrink shop size and concentrate on a narrow range of highly-discounted titles on sale in huge “media megastores” alongside the cds, dvds and games consoles that already fill HMV branches?
That would suit us very well…
* Now I’ll probably get people leaving semi-literate comments informing me that actually she is a literary talent of Nobel Prize-winning standard. In capitals. Just like they did when I wrote about how I thought Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series was a badly-written pile of poo which also had alarming opinions about what the perfect boyfriend is. And it isn’t standing in your room watching you sleep – that’s a stalker, that is, and you need a restraining order.