Waterstones and their brand

A while Waterstones was in the news for demanding cash from publishers to place books in prominent positions.  Does this matter?  I am not sure, but for me it undermined their position as an independent bookshop.  OK they had been bought by WH Smith, but I liked to think that they still had that independent ethos.

I was reading their book reivews today and noticed that they don’t write them themselves.  Look at these three recommendations all signed by Mark:

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Maybe they have two or three Marks with different handwriting.  However the reviews by Trudi, et al all used the same handwriting. Or maybe someone just makes it up? Or could the publishers still be paying for reviews and it is all handed down from head office?  I don’t know. I used to like Waterstones.

I will continue to use Waterstones when I need/have to, but I have absolutely no respect for them as an independent that should be supported.

It is these types of details that can break a brand. The term brand congruence does have a meaning when you see things like this happen.  A concrete example of the brand promise not being followed through to the store.

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