Jun 3, 2021

The Englishman trying to save American bookstores from Amazon

In 2019, the investment fund that owns Waterstones, Elliott Advisors, purchased the ailing Barnes & Noble and its 607 US bookstores for $638m and put Daunt in charge. Another pressing question is whether Daunt can conquer the larger and more diverse US market using a formula honed in the UK. The number of bookstores in America fell from 11,200 in 2004 to 6,200 in 2018, and some doubt whether anything can halt the decline. It seemed possible that books were fated to go the way of CDs and later DVDs. Daunt himself hedged his bets in 2012 by striking a deal with Amazon to sell Kindles in Waterstones. Daunt's solution to Waterstones' troubles was simple: he ran it more like Daunt Books. "If you walked into any shop, the same thing greeted you, but what is right for Crouch End may not be right for Huddersfield." To change tack, it not only had to trust its employees but sacrifice the £27m it was paid by publishers to promote their books the year before Daunt joined.

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