Books: Cover Stories

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The Independent Culture
THE LACKLUSTRE recent performance from Waterstone's may prompt a bid from the chain's founder, Tim Waterstone, to buy the company back from the HMV Media Group. Still a significant shareholder and Non-Executive Chairman, he seems to have made little secret of his disapproval of the stewardship of David Kneale, the MD who arrived from Boots and who has, he believes, dumbed down Waterstone's. Morale at HQ and in branches is certainly low and, if he's serious, the founder could surely put together a pleasing bid.

SO IT'S all change at Simon & Schuster, which - before it divested itself of huge chunks of its business - used to be the world's largest publishing company. Nick Webb, head of the London operation for the best part of a decade, has quit. The New York office rapidly announced the appointment of Ian Chapman, lately MD of Macmillan. His chief claim to fame has been keeping the likes of Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran happy.

IN THE end, Christina Foyle copped out. With probate granted this week, it is clear that decisions regarding the future of her Charing Cross Road bookshop are left to the trustees, a solicitor and a surveyor. Her nephew Christopher, now Chairman, has told staff that he and the trustees are "eager to take the bookshop into the next century" - so breaking with his aunt's traditions. Many thought the store might be left to Battersea Dogs Home. In the event, it gets pounds 5,000, the same amount as willed to the Booksellers Provident Association. Her gardener receives pounds 100,000 and is entrusted with the care of her dog and tortoises. Meanwhile, accounts reveal that, in the year prior to her death, Foyles made a loss, its turnover falling 11 per cent.

THE CELTIC tigress still roars. Marian Keyes, whose new novel The Last Chance Saloon remains high in the charts, has signed a new contract with Penguin. What will she get for two books? Round about a million - give or take a punt or two.