Imaginary War | Letters | Chicago Reader

Imaginary War 

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To the editors:

In company with most of the other Chicago booksellers, we are bored to death with the constant rehashing of the "Book Wars" theme [Culture Club, April 23]. Book buyers who find themselves with exciting new shopping options are not in the least bit interested in trade gossip and it might be appropriate for the Reader to set an example and consign this ridiculous nonstory to the trash can. Apart from its contrived nature--when does healthy competition become "a war"?--we, as advertising subscribers to the Reader, find it offensive to read baseless conjecture about the health of our business in your columns.

Chicago is a new market for us and we always expected the real breakthrough to take some time so it's simply foolish to talk about a poor start. With the decline of older competitors, we are actually discovering our business maturing at a pace greater than we might have hoped for. Nor is it a very responsible position to suggest that the reason we held a sale was to assist cash flow. How could you possibly know that? What was your source for such information? Waterstone's is owned by a $2 billion corporation and our position is as secure as it gets in business.

In fact, the reason we staged the sale was primarily to spread awareness of the store. Chicago is an enormous city and it's important for us to reach out to areas outside our immediate catchment area. In this respect we were dramatically successful as the research conducted during the sale revealed.

To conclude, can we simply suggest that this particular dead horse has been flogged enough. Let booksellers get on with their business and let the customers decide as they always do. As for the Reader, let it forget gossip and return to the business of enlightenment and information. From our brief experience, that seems to be what you do best.

Bert Wright

Marketing Manager

Waterstone's Booksellers

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