Dear Waterstones …

20 April 2016

Dear Waterstones,

I’m writing to give you a piece of advice to help you build on your online presence. It’s good to see you’ve got into social media. Bookshops, all bookshops, need all the help they can get given the competition from Kindles and similar horrors.

You tweet a lot of good stuff. It sometimes even gives me an idea of something to buy that I’d not thought of before. But part of the social media bit is what they call engaging. It’s a fancy word and I’m sure your marketing people can explain what you need to do in detail. For me, a customer, a punter if you’re that way inclined, it means putting out stuff that doesn’t immediately sell product, that makes me chuckle or think, and above all responds if I raise a question with you. It is social media after all – the clue’s in the name.

That was why I am so disappointed you haven’t responded to two tweets I sent you, both on the same subject. It was about this placard, displayed upstairs in your Aberdeen branch. I’m afraid I took a sneaky pic of it when I was browsing one day:

These are the tweets I sent you:

On 9 April to your main @Waterstones account, ‘Tell your Aberdeen staff Yes campaign lost indyref, not SNP, who haven’t “wiped out” their opponents!’

Then when I received no reply, on 17 April and I saw it was still there, to @WaterstonesABDN ‘Friendly staff member told me this placard was written in your branch. But it’s not right is it?’

Taken together, those two messages sum up what I feel about the placard. As I hope you’ll realise, I have no objection to your selling books I might disagree with, in fact the more the better. It’s what democracy and a free media are about. My objection is to the two blatant untruths in your in-store publicity for this particular book.

It’s still not too late to do something about the placard. It sometimes happens that employees of all sorts of organisations rather too enthusiastically carry over their political views to work. In a way I don’t blame them but it does need a guiding hand of management to make sure they don’t occasionally step over the mark and antagonise customers.

I wish you well with selling lots of copies of the book concerned and with lots of other books. There are only two bookshops left in Aberdeen, yours and Blackwells. I patronise both. But please don’t make me feel less sympathetic towards your otherwise excellent establishment.

Yours faithfully

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