After more than a decade, Waterstones is bringing an end to its famous 3 for 2 promotion.
Apparently the new managing director James Daunt believes that a 3 for 2 promotion goes against the grain of what bookselling is all about, and that price should never be the dominating factor.
I have mixed emotions about the end to this promotion. On the one hand, it means I'm less likely to pick up random authors. I'm less likely to buy the whole of the Booker/Orange Prize shortlist. I'm less likely to buy a whole bundle of books at once.
On the other hand, I won't be stuck with all those 'No 3' books that you spent almost an hour trying to find in the store, and didn't *really* want but felt like you should get your money's worth. I might see more parity in the publishers that are able to sell books and less of a focus on those who can afford the 3 for 2 table displays.
I will be interested in seeing what new pricing structures/promotional displays will be pursued by Waterstones in the future. I would love to see an end to the £7.99 or £8.99 pricing on novels. I'm not a stupid consumer. I'm not fooled by the 99p into thinking I'm paying less than £8 or £9! Just put a nice round number on the pricing. I would be interested to see novels selling for £5 - I would feel like that was a relatively disposable amount and might take a chance on new authors at that pricing level.
I would really like to see themed promotions all around the stores - such as the display that Den Patrick is doing in Blackwells in London. I think that one type of promotion that Waterstones should push forward is the 'If you like X author, then you'll like Y..." For me, this fits into the new ethos that is being highlighted by James Daunt. It allows new authors to be spotlighted, it allows Waterstones employees to demonstrate knowledge and champion books that they have enjoyed. And it means that people buying books can be guided towards novels that they might enjoy, rather than running the gauntlet of the 3 for 2's and hoping for the best!
What are your thoughts on the end of this promotion? Positive or negative? Were there any authors you discovered thanks to the 3 for 2 promotion?