A certain bookstore online

A certain bookchain, the one we don’t like to mention round here anymore, was in the Financial Times today where it announced that W**terstone’s were breaking away from their relationship with Amazon and launching their own webstore. Actually this is incorrect – they aren’t launching their own webstore, they are re-launching; they had a very good webstore before some idiot axed it and decided to basically have an Amazon store with the ‘W’ brand over it (with Amazon taking a cut), although perhaps that homogenous look was well suited to how the business was then going. The original webstore was quite good and even had features such as a cool SF&F mag – I used to contribute a large number of reviews to it every month as did other expert booksellers, but some head honcho decided to basically cut a deal with Amazon, because obviously that is how you get ahead in business, by handing some to your rival… Duhhhh.

I wonder how many sales were lost over the years due to that foolish decision, how much it eroded the company’s brand online and how much money and time will now need to be expended to get back to where they were several years before some numpty made that stupid mistake (somehow I’m guessing the folks who made that decision retained their jobs unlike me and their huge ‘performance-related’ salaries they were paid for making them – you all know performance related, its what the big cheeses at large companies use as justification when they double their salary but pay the workers some measely 2 or 3% rise).

However silly the whole mess is, it isn’t really my concern anymore of course, but oh how could I resist the rest of the FT article which said:

“The new website will embrace employee blogging, a dramatic reversal for the company that emerged last year as the first British company to sack an employee for blogging.

Joe Gordon, 37, who worked for Waterstone’s in Edinburgh for 11 years, was dismissed for personal commentary regarding his day-to-day life at the bookstore on his blog.

However, Mr Giles said HMV’s new digital approach would not extend to rehiring Mr Gordon.”

Oh, mighty Mr Giles, how you wound my poor, tender feelings to the quick! Seriously, a point of information for Alan G (who did award himself a doubled salary one year when I worked there while staff were told the low rise in their already poor wages were the best they could expect. Yes, I remember that Alan – you said it was performance related, but how many books did you sell that year? I sold a lot and so did my colleagues in the stores but we didn’t get a huge increase): for starters, I am not surprised you are no rehiring me, although in the interests of accuracy I have to point out that after the successful appeal against the disgraceful way I was treated last year W**erstone’s did actually offer me my job back, but I declined it as I had been offered a better one by FPI.

Secondly if you hadn’t been so nasty to me you’d find that someone with my book knowledge, blogging and online experience, interviewing and reviewing history and book knowledge and contacts would be perfect for helping to set up a books online business, but too late, I’m enjoying building business elsewhere – and adding features, interviews, reviews, news, previews and other interesting features to that site as well (in fact I added a fascinating piece by an author just this afternoon and one from a terrific cartoonist the other day).

It is nice to see you have learned at least a little though and are embracing blogging (although I wonder what form it will take), shame it is a year and a half after I left and set up a cool blog for a much hipper company. And a podcast too. So glad you realise I am an example worth emulating, shame you were unable to realise what you had at the time – to think you had a resource in your company that had a grasp of online functionality, blogs and a huge knowledge of books and the ability to communicate that to readers and you threw it away (in a fashion that hardly helped the company’s image) – does make you wonder why that performance related pay went up rather than down – well, if you were a cynical person, which we all know I’m not 🙂