To James Daunt – Director, Waterstones Booksellers Limited
Paying all your Booksellers a starting Living Wage of £9, or £10.55 for the Greater London area, will have a positive impact on the lives of Booksellers, their performance in the role, and the success of the bookselling industry.
Working for a rate of pay that is below the Living Wage results in Booksellers who are stressed, preoccupied and who have little spare time and energy to devote to buying books, reading them, and keeping up with news and trends in the industry – all of which activities are undertaken outside contracted hours, and which many staff consider to be (and are encouraged to view as) integral to their role.
Please pay all your Booksellers a minimum Real Living Wage of £9, or £10.55 in Greater London.
Staff at Waterstones
Why is this important?
James Daunt has stressed on more than one occasion that the survival and success of brick and mortar bookstores relies on the skill of booksellers. The current rate of pay for Waterstones Booksellers across the UK is below the rate determined by the Living Wage Foundation, and does not reflect the energy, erudition and skill a Bookseller brings to the role.
James Daunt has previously expressed the view that bookselling as “a retail job . . . barely above the minimum wage . . . sucked some of the lifeblood out of what it is to be Bookseller.”(1) He has also made it clear that he understands that “Booksellers who are enjoying themselves work a lot harder and more effectively than those that don’t.”(2)
A Real Living Wage for all Booksellers would allow us to lead healthy and fulfilled lives, remove the burden from our finances and reduce mental stress. This would result in Booksellers across the country who are healthy, well read, intelligent and insightful, and who have the time, energy and commitment to keep bookshops alive and thriving.
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(1) Waterstones YouTube channel on 23.10.2012 James Daunt on reclaiming the “honourable profession” of bookselling.
(2) BBC Radio 4 Open Book on 15.11.2018 Fiction following the Armistace; Beowulf reimagined; James Daunt.