Waterstone's essentials


Facts and information about the UK's leading specialist book retailer.

Waterstone's was founded by Tim Waterstone in 1982 with the intention of building a chain of stores with a wide specialist range, friendly atmosphere to browse in, and knowledgeable booksellers. The first branch was opened in Old Brompton Road, London.
WHSmith took a share in Waterstone's in 1989, and in 1998 HMV Media (now HMV Group plc) acquired Waterstone's, having already acquired the Dillon's chain. In 1999 HMV re-branded its portfolio of Dillon's stores to Waterstone's.
In July 2006, HMV Group PLC acquired the bookshop chain, Ottakar's.

The Waterstone's Brand and Marketplace

Waterstone's enjoys spontaneous brand awareness of an incredible 83%, compared to 74% for its nearest competitor. 66% of people regularly shop at Waterstone's compared with 51% in the nearest competitor.

In a recent Brandindex survey Waterstone's came top of the high street retailers for service, quality, satisfaction and corporate reputation.
Waterstone's total sales for the year ending 29 April 2006 were £414 million, of which £409 million were in the UK.
Consumer demand for new books has risen over the past five years, and is forecast to grow at around five per cent per year. 300 million books* were sold in the UK in 2005, with a total value of £2.4 billion. Bestsellers, defined as the top 5,000 titles in a calendar year, accounted for half of these sales.
Average sales for the titles ranked between 10 and 999 in the bestseller list were £400,000.
Over 180,000 new titles were published in 2005, of which 120,000 were published for the consumer market.
1 Research carried out by Research Craft, June 2005
Brandindex Survey carried out by YouGov, Jan 2006
*The most recent year for which figures are available
Nielsen Bookscan data TNS


Waterstone's is a range specialist with 20% of sales generated from the front of store and 80% from the backlist.

In 2005, 464,000 titles were stocked or sold by Waterstone's (sales of 600,000 titles were recorded by Nielsen TCM in the same period). In the same year, Waterstone's stocked 67,500 newly published titles, out of the 124,000 titles published that year.
Waterstone's central buying team selected 5,610 titles for promotion in 2005, of which 3,897 (69%) were new titles. Also in 2005 around 60,000 new titles (nearly 90% of new titles ordered by Waterstone's) were selected and promoted locally.
Since the introduction of Phoenix version 9 - Waterstone's award-winning stock and range management system - the company has improved availability of its top 13,000 core range titles by over 20%.
Expertise Waterstone's booksellers have a combined total of 23,055 years bookselling experience and one in eight of them have been with the company for over 10 years.
Many of Waterstone's booksellers have gone on to become successful authors including David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, who worked at Waterstone's Canterbury.
Two Waterstone's booksellers have recently launched critically acclaimed writing careers and are being hailed as rising stars of the children's book market. Anna Dale of Waterstone's Southampton is now the author of two bestsellers: Dawn Undercover and Whispering to Witches, whilst Stuart Hill of Waterstone's in Leicester has had huge success with Cry of the Icemark, the first of a trilogy, with the second installment, Blade of Fire.
Other Waterstone's booksellers that have gone to become published authors include Alan Bissett, whose The Incredible Adam Spark was published in February 2006; Jeff Noon, author of Vurt; Sonia Overall, whose A Likeness was labelled 'intoxicating' by The Observer in 2005, and Oliver Jeffers, the rising star of children's picture books whose Lost and Found was published in May 2006.
Waterstone's also has academic authors and editors among its ranks including Dr John Partington of Waterstone's Reading. John is author of Building Cosmopolis: The Political Thought of H.G.Wells and editor of The Wellsian: Selected Essays on H.G. Wells and The Reception of H.G. Wells in Europe.


Over 1,000 author events are held by Waterstone's every year.

In March 2004, when Jacqueline Wilson appeared at the Bournemouth Castlepoint store, over 2,000 children and parents queued for up to eight hours to meet her and pick up a signed copy of her newly published book Best Friends.
The biggest single audience of 2005 was for the world-renowned physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking, who attracted 930 people to hear him lecture at the Institute of Education, adjacent to Waterstone's Gower Street.
Visitors often travel from overseas to attend author events. When Paul McCartney visited Waterstone's Piccadilly in December 2005, fans from as far a field as France and Holland slept on the pavement overnight for a chance to meet him.
During Harry Potter fever in 2005, Waterstone's saw nearly 2,000 people queue outside its Oxford Street store. Many waited from 6am to be amongst the first to pick up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Imaginatively staged events are a hallmark of the Waterstone's programme. Tracey Emin created a bespoke window installation for 311 Oxford Street, which was signed and auctioned for charity. And in April 2006, burlesque star Dita Von Teese invited hundreds of fans into an opulent boudoir created for the occasion at Waterstone's Harrods.
Our shops also run hundreds of events for their local communities, these include local author signings, children's activity days and regular storytellings.