Letter: Too many books

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The Independent Online
I'M NOT surprised that Waterstone's is in trouble, if my experience with its Piccadilly branch is typical ("Waterstone's facing staff revolt", 28 November). I was impressed by the splendid new interiors, the bar, the coffee shop, the restaurant and the loos. Wanting to celebrate a first visit, I asked for Roger Osborne's The Deprat Affair, at that time being read on BBC Radio 4. A member of staff found it on the computer, but could not tell me where, in the five miles of shelves, I could actually find the book, or even what category it came under. She consulted colleagues, who could not help, so the sale was lost.

What every section needs is a manager of the calibre of the old-fashioned bookseller, who was a reader himself, knew what was going on in the book world, and had a stock that he knew from hands-on experience. Computers cannot replace this knowledge, and a large number of books can be too many, if not under control.


Fareham, Hampshire