Not many happy Waterstone returns

I was at the IPG meeting with Waterstone’s and was amazed at the problems they have with returning unsold books to unlucky publishers. One publisher complained of an 80% damaged rate for his books; seems this is caused by returned books from stores going through W’s centralised hub system and  dropped down into chutes. Recycling to other stores that are ordering the same title as has been returned and damaged  would be better than destruction and W are seemingly working on this. Not that they seem worried by big sellers sitting around in stores – only 20% -50% of bestseller stock sells in their first month in W stores. 

I am  more puzzled by W buying books in fewer quantities  that would sell ok  but they are getting  ruthless about slow movers.  This is a real frustration. W  categorise and rate books – a “super tier” for bestwellers and then grade titles 1-6.  I don’t like to think where we stand.

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