Waterstone's drops 3-for-2 book deal

Waterstone's store The chain is expected to introduce a new simplified pricing structure

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Waterstone's has announced it will end its 3-for-2 deals on books in September after more than 10 years.

The promotion is expected to be withdrawn this month and replaced by a new pricing structure which will see books sold for £3, £5 and £7.

The bookstore chain was bought by Russian businessman Alexander Mamut earlier this year.

Managing director James Daunt has vowed to shake up the chain amid flagging sales and customer dissatisfaction.

Many publishers have welcomed the move to abandon the 3-for-2 promotion which has dominated the shops' sales in recent years.

Ursula Mackenzie, chair of the Trade Publishers' Council at the Publishers Association, told industry magazine The Bookseller that it was "a good thing".

"I'm not sure that the 3-for-2 is what people are looking for. They want one book, at the cheapest possible price."

Author Charles Cumming, whose latest thriller, The Trinity Six, is scheduled to appear in the final 3-for-2 deal in Waterstones later this month, believes more obscure authors "may suffer".

Charles Cumming Thriller writer Cumming has seen his books featured in a 3-for-2 deals

"There was a feeling among writers that if your paperback didn't get into the 3-for-2 deal, you were finished," he told BBC News.

He argues that being on the table next to a best-selling author such as Lee Child or JK Rowling allowed lesser-known writers to be exposed to a broader audience and new readers.

"My worry is that without the presence of a 3-for-2 deal, established authors will still be sold at an attractive price, but that emerging writers will no longer have a platform."

Waterstone's, which has faced increased competition from online stores such as Amazon, and the rapid growth of e-books, will be hoping for strong sales over the Christmas period.

In an internal email sent in July, Mr Daunt said he would be working closely with shops "to ensure that as we enter the crucial final quarter of the year, we do so with our shops stocked to the best possible effect".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Where does this obsession with the constant rolling of pounds into the till fit in with reading? Authors seem to be under some strange spell - a conveyor type 'manufacturing' process. The upturned water bottle goes drip, drip, drip into the gerbal cage and he has no-option but to lick for every single droplet, - WHY NOT DROWN HIM WITH 1 SINGLE BOOK OR HAVE YOU NOT THE SUBJECT MATTER?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I read a hell of a lot and so I save a fortune on the 3-for-2 offers and often it exposes me to authors and books I would never otherwise consider. If this new pricing structure turns out to be cheaper, then it's a good move. But I can see some of the authors who don't have massive publicity juggernauts losing out based on this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Is this really a news item worthy of being on the BBC ? Are we now going to have news stories about Boots offering three toothbrushes for the price of one or Next selling three packs of socks for the price of two ?

    No wonder our nation is so stupid these days. Wake up BBC !

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    If this means cheaper books then great but usually I get the 3 for 2 offer for a bit of variety like others using the 'free' book as a wild card. I buy my books at Waterstones because of the generally good customer service that I receive by people genuinely interested in books.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Disappointed to hear this, I have discovered many new writers using the 3 for 2 by get 2 I know and a "wild card". Without this appeal I'm more and not less likely to buy on line from Amazon,.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    It`s horses for courses. The avid reader will miss the 3-for-2 offer but the occasional reader will welcome this change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    The main problem with Waterstones is the ever-decreasing number of good books. Those available have become increasingly trivial over recent months. I used to enjoy spending an hour on a Saturday, selecting four or five books. Now I leave empty-handed. Instead, I go to second-hand book shops and dig through their stocks. Don't trivialise or patronise, Waterstones!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    As an obsessive reader, to whom 3 novels a week is pretty standard going, I'm gutted that the offer is ending! Yes often prices can be better online, but sometimes I need new books FAST! I have found many great authors in the 3 for 2 deal - both my wallet and my mind will suffer from its ending :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Spacehighwayman & CSMK

    WhilstI I understand your comments about the convenience of using online and also the kindle; just try & get it signed by the author!!!

    CSMK, I fully understand your comments about the possible decline of bookshops, but not their demise. As per my earlier comments in (10) I see some parents, admittedly not all, actively encourage their children to read books.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I didn't even realise that Waterstones had been sold!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I do hope changing from 3 for 2 will make a difference. They must compete at the lowest prices with Amazon.
    Personally I only (normally) read non - fiction, so cannot ever find 3 books that take my interest in one visit.I also prefer "Trade copies", hardback size in softback, rare to find.
    I have been known to go into a rivals premises and note the ISBN then order the book cheaper on Amazon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    little munchkin.

    I totally agree. I always hated the fact that I picked up two books I was willing to pay full price for only to be forced - practically at gunpoint - to pick up a third one for free. It was like daylight generosity. I can't believe they got away with such bare faced cheek for 10 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Several times i have considered buying a book but decided against it because I would have to pay over the odds if I didn't buy another two. I will now be more likely to buy there.

    I only hope the supermarkets will follow suit, instead of insisting that I buy in bulk when I am not in a position to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    #13 - general

    I think bookshops will take more of a backseat compared to online stores. Its now all about convenience and in this climate,price. Browsing for music is on the decline, the same will happen with books unfortunatly.

    I agree that researching history, it would be nice to read the old documents, however for everything else, digital is the most convenient and easiest way

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.


    I would agree with flicking through LPs/45s, researching ones own history and looking through old books in a library are far more interesting in person than online but for buying new books, online will suffice for me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.


    I wouldn't disagree your comment totally, but it is more interesting looking throught a bookshop & actually handling & feeling books in the same way as perusing LP's/45's in a record shop.

    If you decide to research your own history would it not be more exciting to see & read old documents, as opposed to reading everything on line.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Unfortunatly this will contribute to the decline of people buying books. I myself have just purchased a kindle and am sorry to say that the convenience of it, its the way forward for me. Scrapping this deal may turn more people towards technology as its becoming the most cost effective solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Unknown authors get the cheapest price, voila. They'll still sell. If they don't think so, they should check out their competition. Quite a few unknown authors are being sold through Amazon. I pick up 1.99 books there all the time. People browsing in a real bookstore will get the chance to read covers/exerpts, and best part, no shipping cost!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    As somebody who works in public libraries I've mixed feelings over this. Books are not tins of baked beans & everyone is different.

    Perhaps it might be a good idea to introduce a loyality scheme which would allow you to 'purchase' books that you might not otherwise consider, for example by up and coming authors.

    The need for books to be accessible is paramount & price is a critical factor.


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