Waterstones 'local' bookstore meets opposition from residents

UK bookstore chain Waterstones recently opened a location in Southwold, Suffolk titled Southwold Books. Some residents say it's hiding the fact that it's not independently owned.

Waterstones' new location in Southwold, Suffolk is titled Southwold Books.

UK bookstore chain Waterstones is under fire for a new location called Southwold Books (named after its location in Southwold, Suffolk) that the managing director of the company calls a “quintessentially local” bookstore but that some Southwold residents are complaining will hurt actual local businesses. 

Waterstones opened the new location earlier this month, according to The Bookseller. Bookseller writer Lisa Campbell wrote that the new store is “in the spirit of an independent bookshop.”

However, the Southwold & Reydon Society, which “protect[s] the character and amenities of this unique and beautiful part of Suffolk,” according to its website, isn’t happy with the new bookstore. John Perkins, secretary of the society, told the BBC, “It's dishonest, because it's a national chain pretending not to be a national chain, but trying to look like a local shop. When chain stores arrive you get a feeding frenzy of landlords putting up rents which drives out local independent retailers.”

The new Waterstones is the only store completely centered on books in the area, and Waterstones regional retail manager Matt Gretton told the BBC they were just meeting demand for a bookshop in the area. 

“When we were at a literary festival here last year, it was local people telling us they wanted a dedicated bookshop again,” he said.

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