A personal shopper for books

Here's an idea with a certain appeal. In Liverpool, at its largest store (brand new and 22,000 sq ft), book retailing giant Waterstone's will be offering personal shoppers to help you find just the right book for everyone on your gift list.

The store is well staffed (57 employees) and for parts of each day (two stretches between 12-3 pm and 4-6 pm) three salespeople will be designated as personal shoppers. They will wear special green shirts and will have no other duties at that time.

"All people have to do is tell us a little about who they need to get a present for, and the personal shopper will select the perfect gift," the store's manager Ian Critchley told thebookseller.com. "Given we have over 60,000 books, as well as everything else we sell, we think this will be the perfect service for those who are spoilt for choice and pushed for time."

Hmm, let's see: personal attention, knowledgeable recommendations, a thoughtful focus on the books themselves. Sounds a lot like what used to be your neighborhood bookstore, doesn't it?

It will be interesting to see if a mega-store like Waterstone's can manage to combine the advantage of size with some of the pleasures of the mom-and-pop bookstore experience.

If so, they may be on to something that will find a life well beyond the holiday season.

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