about the UK's leading specialist book retailer

Waterstones was founded by Tim Waterstone in 1982 with the intention of building a chain of bookshops with a wide specialist range, friendly atmosphere to browse in, and knowledgeable booksellers. The first branch was opened in Old Brompton Road, London.

WHSmith took a share in Waterstones in 1989, and in 1998 HMV Media (now HMV Group plc) acquired Waterstones, having already acquired the Dillon's chain. In 1999 HMV re-branded its portfolio of Dillon's shops to Waterstones.

In July 2006, HMV Group PLC acquired the bookshop chain, Ottakar's.

 The Waterstones Brand and Marketplace

Waterstones enjoys spontaneous brand awareness of an incredible 83%, compared to 74% for its nearest competitor. 66%1 of people regularly shop at Waterstones compared with 51% in the nearest competitor.

In a recent Brandindex survey Waterstones came top of the high street retailers for service, quality, satisfaction and corporate reputation.

Waterstones total sales for the year ending 29 April 2006 were £414 million, of which £409 million were in the UK.

Consumer demand for new books has risen over the past five years, and is forecast to grow at around five per cent per year. 300 million books* were sold in the UK in 2005, with a total value of £2.4 billion. Bestsellers, defined as the top 5,000 titles in a calendar year, accounted for half of these sales.

Average sales for the titles ranked between 10 and 999 in the bestseller list were £400,000.

Over 180,000 new titles were published in 2005, of which 120,000 were published for the consumer market.

 1 Research carried out by Research Craft, June 2005

Brandindex Survey carried out by YouGov, Jan 2006

*The most recent year for which figures are available
Nielsen Bookscan data TNS


Waterstones is a range specialist with 20% of sales generated from the front of store and 80% from the backlist.

 In 2005, 464,000 titles were stocked or sold by Waterstones (sales of 600,000 titles were recorded by Nielsen TCM in the same period). In the same year, Waterstones stocked 67,500 newly published titles, out of the 124,000 titles published that year.

Waterstones central buying team selected 5,610 titles for promotion in 2005, of which 3,897 (69%) were new titles. Also in 2005 around 60,000 new titles (nearly 90% of new titles ordered by Waterstones) were selected and promoted locally.

Since the introduction of Phoenix version 9 - Waterstone's award-winning stock and range management system - the company has improved availability of its top 13,000 core range titles by over 20%.


Waterstones booksellers have a combined total of 23,055 years bookselling experience and one in eight of them have been with the company for over 10 years.

Many of Waterstones booksellers have gone on to become successful authors including David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, who worked at Waterstones Canterbury.

Two Waterstones booksellers have launched critically acclaimed writing careers and are being hailed as rising stars of the children's book market. Anna Dale of Waterstones Southampton is now the author of two bestsellers: Dawn Undercover and Whispering to Witches, whilst Stuart Hill of Waterstones in Leicester has had huge success with Cry of the Icemark, the first of a trilogy, with the second installment, Blade of Fire, due for release in September 2006.

Other Waterstones booksellers that have gone to become published authors include Alan Bissett, whose The Incredible Adam Spark was published in February 2006; Jeff Noon, author of Vurt; Sonia Overall, whose A Likeness was labelled 'intoxicating' by The Observer in 2005, and Oliver Jeffers, the rising star of children's picture books whose Lost and Found was published in May 2006.

Waterstones also has academic authors and editors among its ranks including Dr John Partington of Waterstones Reading. John is author of Building Cosmopolis: The Political Thought of H.G.Wells and editor of The Wellsian: Selected Essays on H.G. Wells and The Reception of H.G. Wells in Europe.


In 2007 Waterstones shops held over 5,000 events and activities, ranging from events with first-time published authors to some of the biggest celebrities in the UK today. When Harry Potter was published approximately 250,000 people attended Waterstones midnight openings around the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. Around 7,000 descended on the Piccadilly store, with the most faithful fans travelling from the Netherlands and arriving 48 hours prior to the book's release in order to be first in the queue.

The Piccadilly branch also played host to a sell out stand-up show and signing with broadcaster and comedian Russell Brand. Russell went on to sign books in a number of our shops around the UK, helping the book towards the Number 1 slot. In October Lewis Hamilton drew hundreds when he signed copies of his book in Stevenage (his home town), and F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart attracted large crowds up and down the country, particularly in Scotland. Dame Helen Mirren wowed fans in Manchester, Bluewater, Leadenhall Market and Piccadilly, and Iain McEwan spoke to an audience of 400 in Oxford. Michael Palin enhanced his reputation for travel by signing books for Waterstones customers in Edinburgh, East Kilbride, Carlisle, Liverpool, Leicester, Bury St Edmunds, Southampton and London's Oxford Street.

In addition to bookshop events, Waterstones is proud to be associated with 15 literary festivals. The most established of these is the Cheltenham Literary Festival, which features approximately 400 events within its ten day programme. The newest was the extremely successful Bath Children's Literary Festival, which had its inaugural year in 2007.

Aside from Harry Potter, Waterstones had a full programme of children's events and activities, with many shops holding fun days and storytelling throughout the year. Super Saturday Storytime took place in August, with 230 shops hosting a storytime session on the same day.

For further information please visit Waterstones.com/events to find a full listing of Waterstones current and future events.