Waterstones managing director James Daunt responded further — and more skeptically — to the petition signed by more than 4,000 employees asking the company to increase pay for booksellers. Daunt said, “There’s a long gap between wanting to do something and it being remotely sensible,” adding, “If you raise the bottom level really significantly, then everybody all the way up the company has to go up, and then we go bust, which isn’t very helpful.” A group of 1,300 writers have also backed the campaign, but Daunt says they’re “[preaching] to the converted” and the company is “simply not profitable enough to wave the magic wand and shower gold all around.”
Elsewhere, Barnes & Noble opens one of its scaled-down new stores in Rochester Hills, Michigan today, the first new location in the state in 13 years. At 14,000-square feet, the store will be the tenth of B&N’s new format stores.
The University of South Dakota has ended its 17-year partnership with Barnes & Noble College, moving to online-only bookstore platform Akademos when its contract expires at the end of June. The store will be replaced by USD’s campus store Charlie’s, but students will have to order all of their textbooks online. A committee of students, staff, faculty and administration made the decision “after evaluating the future of the market and its attraction to digital bookstore vendors.”
“The question that we had, and this is the number one decision-making factor for us, was ‘what does the bookstore market look like in three years, five years down the road?'” said Scott Pohlson, vp of marketing, enrollment and university relations, “Our feeling was that it will look different. We tried to look at it in a future setting to try and be proactive about where the market was going.”
The owners of Sparta Books in Sparta, NJ are planning to retire and looking to sell the store. Donna and Bill Fell have owned the Sparta Books for 12 years. Donna Fell said they are not in a hurry: “We are not rushing to sell. If it goes quickly, great. If it takes two years, that’s fine too.”