Waterstones has been sneaking books onto the high street in secret, using a series of unbranded "local" book shops to sell its wares in towns where opening a big W.A.T.E.R.S.T.O.N.E.S. with coffee and a helipad and all that would bristle with the locals a bit too much.
Such as the cute sounding Southwold Books in Southwold, which has a plain white logo atop it, as if the government was trying to discourage people from reading by making the shops remove all branding. You'd think Southwold Books was a family-run establishment stretching back to the 1940s and currently staffed by the disinterested granddaughter of the original Mr Southwold, but no. It's a brand new Waterstones, only they called it Southwold Books to keep the town residents happy. It is literally and metaphorically a facade.
Other pretend local bookshops have been opened by Waterstones in Rye and Harpenden, with only small notices in the window explaining they're actually trojan horses for a retail behemoth. The company's boss James Daunt told the BBC that: "They are very small shops in towns that had independents and very much wish they still had independents, but don’t. We can’t open up great big Waterstones here but we can open up small ones. We are coming into quite sensitive high streets with predominantly independent retailers on them and we wish to behave as they do."
And Waterstones is generally nice and is doing a great job and always stocks Not Now, Bernard whenever I check, so it's probably best to have it continue existing, even if it needs to do so secretly in some places. [Guardian]