Waterstones reduced the visibility of Penguin Random House books in its branches after the publisher limited its credit.
The dispute between the country’s biggest specialist bookstore chain and its largest commercial publisher began late last year and saw Waterstones booksellers being told to manage their stock in a way that avoids running out of titles Individual HRPs.
A PRH spokesperson confirmed that a credit limit had been introduced “at a very significant level” in the last quarter of 2020, but claimed that there were “no practical restrictions on trading currently “.
However, while the chain does not limit its stock of PRH books, they are still moved to less prominent positions in stores to avoid impulse purchases that could lead to out of stock.
A Waterstones employee said the decision involved removing PRH books from areas such as tables, display spaces and windows, rather than “discreetly removing them to their relevant sections”.
Such a situation would normally only occur in the bookstore when stock runs out on a popular title, but is now happening across the entire PRH lineup.
Meanwhile, no PRH title has been chosen as the channel’s book of the month in 2021 so far, a major driver of sales. The situation has also forced the channel to wait for reprints of requested titles.
The bookstore understands that Waterstones is operating under its usual credit terms and has no concerns about its finances, despite PRH’s decision. The situation appears to be unique to PRH.
Waterstones joined other booksellers last month in reopening after months of lockdown, with doctor James Daunt hailing an ‘unusually busy’ first week.
A Waterstones spokesperson said: “We very much hope to return to normality now that our stores have reopened. It’s wonderful to be so busy, with sales well ahead of our expectations.