Over the last year or so we’ve heard quite a lot about the revival of the indie bookshop, these treasure troves of books have never been so en vogue as people turn their backs on Amazon and the big chains and turn to high street treasures.
However, now Waterstones Booksellers has come under criticism for opening several small shops in small towns and doing so without the Waterstones name, under the guise of an independent bookshop.
Three new Waterstones have opened recenrtly in Rye, Southwold and Harpenden but they’ve all done so without the name in big letters, prompting criticism. The brand has been accused of creeping in under the guise of being an independent bookshop, but Waterstones say it’s just part of their crusade to become more like a local bookseller because that’s what people want.
So far Watersones has opened three stores under the new independent branding. Southwold Books occupies a Grade II listed building in the Suffolk town and similar stores have opened in Rye, East Sussex and Harpenden in Hertfordshire, with more planned very soon.
The book selling giants have spoken up against the criticism saying the plan was part of a crusade to get the bookshops to behave like independent bookshops, not just in their name, but with each shop having its own identity and personality. They defend the idea that this is a subterfuge, stating that each store clearly states that they are part of the Waterstones group. However, residents in the towns where the shops have appeared aren’t happy, have already been protesting about big chain stores pushing up the business rates, and would almost certainly have put up a protest if they’d known a Waterstones was open in the town.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion. Personally, I’m just glad to see more books back on the high street, however they get there!
(Images courtesy of Google street view)