Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Buyer Who Cares?

On a brief visit to Waterstones at the West End of Edinburgh's Princes Street yesterday, I was very pleasantly surprised to see quite an interesting poetry section. Instead of being populated by the usual suspects with one or two token others thrown in, it included a few American imports and a healthy selection of small press publications--among them a good handful of books from Salt--while even the Mighty Handful were represented by an encouraging range of authors. The shelf space is still not vast, but I came away with the impression that somebody who actually cares about poetry must be buying for that shop. I had a £10 Waterstones voucher in my pocket, and I had real trouble deciding how to dispose of it. In the end, I left with Richard Price's latest collection Greenfields.


Rob said...

A buyer who cares?

Maybe. But maybe not. I get the feeling that W. have decided to concentrate all their poetry in the basement at the West End branch. The poetry sections at the other branches are appalling and appear to have been scaled down recently. I guess any new poetry gets shunted up to the West end.

I agree that the West End branch is OK, a little smaller than Blackwell's, but not bad in poetry terms. Could be worse. Could be non-existent.

By the way, I forgot to give you back your Gillian Allnutt book last week. Next time...

Andrew Philip said...

I agree that the other Waterstones poetry sections in Edinburgh are appalling, but I'd much rather have one decent selection out of three (or is it four now?) than a clutch of them all half-baked. At least you know where to go if you're forced to shop for poetry at Waterstones.

Perhaps I got over-excited by the West End selection in comparison with the East End one, which I also visited much more briefly on Friday, but I felt there were some genuinely interesting choices there. Not that a whole host of other choices at least as interesting wasn't missing, mind.

Matt Merritt said...

I've banged on about this before, but it's one of the reasons I miss Ottakar's. They seemed to have a very regional theme to their buying, which meant that some less obvious choices got shelf space.
I think it can come down to the individual buyer or manager, though. There's a Borders at Fosse Park, just outside Leicester, and they have a really good, wide selection of poetry and poetry mags, because the chap who's in charge is genuinely interested. If he were to go, I suspect it might change quickly.

Rob said...

Andy, I agree the West End has some interesting books and I suppose it's actually best if they are concentrated in the one store.

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