political commentator * author * publisher * bookseller * radio presenter * blogger * Conservative candidate * former lobbyist * Jack Russell owner * West Ham United fanatic * Email iain AT iaindale DOT com
Friday, May 19, 2006
W H Smith Takes The Economist Off Its Shelves
W H Smith has always been a major player on our high streets. But it is threatening to get above itself. I remember well the terms they would demand from publishers under threat of boycott. Indeed, they won't be stocking The Little Red Book as they can't be bothered with small publishers. They're now trying to extort better terms out of magazine publishers, with the result that they have stopped selling The Economist in their 500 retail shops because they won't give in to W H Smith's commercial demands. Although the magazine still remains on sale in their W H Smith travel outlets Smith's refusal to sell it in their major high street stores will undoubtedly hit The Economist's sales hard. It is, of course, a free market, but this is yet another example of a major retailer throwing its weight around in a manner which can in no way be seen as a benefit to the consumer.
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It isn't called W H Smug for nothing....
That's the free market.
All the more reason to get an Economist sub and enjoy the benefits over a pain au chocolate and espresso on a Saturday morning...
First they sell chocolate oranges to kids and now no Economist magazines. Shocking!
Who are WH smiths
I subscribe to the Economist, the best and most economical way.
Smiths sounds worse than Tesco for bullying tactics. I wonder what will replace it on the shelves.
No wonder WH Smith is struggling...
These are the clowns who refused to sell private eye for many years as it was beneath them, now they sell VIZ , anybody visiting a Smiths store knows they are fucked as a retailer, the shops are a mess
sell those shares,
I must admit that the last time I visited the Uk I was amazed at the number of different magazines available for really obscure pass times; three or four different periodicals for such well known hobbies as extreme knitting or Peruvian gerbil breeding. But what really pissed me off was the fact that half the local population seemed to think that the magazine racks were a cross between a social club and a reading room. I was forced to scrum several mothers and prams and assorted derelicts away from the shelves simply to pick up a copy of The Field.
One advantage of the third world is that the newsagents hire large Zulu security guards who move you on if you spend more than two seconds browsing. Surely with the Home Office handing out passports to every Tom, Dick and Happiness I could send a plane load or two over to help you guys organise your shops better.
Now this is curious...
WH Smiths is its own master, pretty much like you were with Politico's. You refused to sell Gerry Adams' biography in your own shop for personal reasons, refusing to bow down to the demands of major publishers...
...and now you are critical of WH Smiths, for refusing to sell a magazine it no longer wishes to stock for its own reasons. Whatever those reasons, do you not respect the will of the free-marketeer? In which case, why make a hypocritical post?
I know Smiths are losing money hand over fist, but that's because their business model has disappeared rather than them not making enough from the Economist. Online retailers and supermarkets sell everything that Smiths does, frequently cheaper and often with a wider range.
Get a subscription to the Economist instead, enjoy it over breakfast (though sadly no pain au chocolat for me) and save lots of money.
(Admittedly, I work for the company that owns the Economist, and so get a much cheaper subscription, but the point still stands ...)
Cranmer, your logic is flawed and I am in no way being hypocritical. W H Smith are using their commercial might against The Economist. I decided not to stock Gerry Adams's book because he supported an organisation which killed my local newsagent in the Docklands bombing. I didn't, as you put it, refuse to bow down to the demands of a major publisher, because no demands were made and the publisher never tried to persuade me to do otherwise. Of course I respect W H Smith's ability to do as they like. But they can also respect my wish not to shop there any more. Just as I am sure you would boycott Politico's because I wouldn't stock a book by an IRA murderer. That's the free market for you.
Are you saying... "Gerry Adams is an IRA murderer?"
What like Thatcher murdered Argentinians?
Please don't allow your desperation rto be selected to influence your postings Iain. It doesn't become you... and is also libellous.
Ian would you stock either the Torah or the quaran?
Bob, i think you're going mad. Yes, Gerry Adams supports IRA murders. He was on its governing council. Love to see him sue me. Secondly, not sure how this is related to my so-called desperation to be selected. In case you hadn't noticed I am not on the A List so it's hardly a relevant subject!
Ian, yes to the latter. What's the former? never heard of it.
My impression is that WHS is on the skids. Books, stationery, cards, CDs; they're all sold cheaper and more attractively in other high street stores. I heard that they were contemplating coffee shops to bring in the punters. Nah. If they want to be Borders, they need a massive image makeover and, anyway, they don't have the space in their present locations.
I couldn't care less if they go under, but I'm worried about their contract to distribute newspapers. It's my understanding that they would like to shed their obligation to deliver to small newsagents and mom and pop stores outside of London. Perhaps someone could keep us up to speed on this area.
I am - historically - generally in agreement with Cranmer, what with his being a decent and thoughtful fellow, but I would think that the difference lies in making decisions based on hard economics and decisions made on other grounds. A purer parallel would be Iain not stocking Adams, and WHS not stocking 'Readers' Wives' or somesuch.
The Torah is the Jewish Bible, also known as the Pentateuch and the Five Books of Moses.
Twenty years ago WHS was a quality wide-ranging bookshop, but sadly no longer. It appears intent on only selling a narrow range of best sellers plus a range of travel guides. No wonder that the UK, on a population basis, is Amazon's most successful market in the world.
I used to be an almost weekly visitor to their stores. Now I only cross its portals if I really have to - e.g. to collect this week's Learn Spanish CDs, c/o the Daily Mail and available only from WHS. I made a point of buying my Mail elsewhere and not spending a penny piece inside WHS.
Bribe Pop concerned about unbecoming behaviour and libel? how touching.
So, in similar vein let's see; how about Blair murdering Iraqi's? (several hundred thousand to date and counting) or his namesake murdering innocent Brazilian electricians?
Or are they just collateral damage in Labour's war on an abstraction?
BareChest... I agree entirely. Blair's war... supported by the Tories, incidentally, is illegal and I would not oppose any attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Iain, giving support to the IRA doesn't make you a murderer... any more than you supporting Thatcher's murder of Argentinian sailors heading away from the exclusion zone makes you a murderer. You may both be apologists for murder... but that doesn't make you a murderer.
If you or your Government at the time have evidence that Adams ordered murders... please tell us why you didn't do anything about it?
WH Smith contemplating coffee shops? The ones in Chester and Manchester Arndale Centre already have them.
As for the supposed 'murder' of Argentines, a ship which sails one way can always change course (and at least one article - in the New Statesman a while back - has mentioned the possibility that the Belgrano was going to be part of a pincer movement against one of our carriers). I'm quite ready to fault Thatcher for withdrawing HMS Endurance (which encouraged the junta to invade in the first place), but she had every right to sink the Belgrano.
The killing of Argentine soldiers was not murder it was war against people who were trying to kill British soldiers & take British territory. It was certainly legal & I would say moral.
The majority of the people the IRA killed were innocent civilians - that was murder (the fact that they didn't wear uniforms means that the killing of soldiers was also murder, though I would say somewhat less immoral). That Gerry Adams was (a?) leader of the IRA is something that we & the dogs in the street all know. There are good arguments for letting it go but lets not lie to ourselves.
The Iraq war was almost certainly illegal & the war against Yugoslavia certainly so. That makes every NATO leader, including all Labour ministers at the time, guilty of war crimes & murder & in their subsequent assistance to the KLA in Kosovo, of genocide & child sex slavery. I would absloutely approve of bringing all involved to severe justice (unfortunately since the Yugoslav war crimes "court" was funded by NATO they brought charges only against Milosevic of whom the worst that can be said is that in 4 years of "trial" no actual evidence against him was produced).
On the core topic a "free market", as defined by Adam Smith, requires that no participant be large enough to influence the market individually. Very few markets are fully free by that definition & W H Smith's is certainly not one. It is therefore right to question whether they are using their strength improperly.
On the other hand if it was Non Threatening Boys Monthly rather than the Economist I doubt it would get the coverage.
What turned me off voting Labour for life...Bob Piper's posts here remind me.
I think you're missing the point. Of course, if W.H. Smith wants to fill it's magazine shelves with the fine auto-erotic publications of Messers Hefner, Flynt and Guccione. Well, so be it.
But I don't think this is the operation of a free market, but a distortion where a dominant player tries to extort favourable terms out of a supplier. It also doesn't make much sense to me in a highly competitive industry (bookselling) where many of us have slightly borader horizons than Hello! and Dan Brown.
Oh, and I can predict what would happen if my local chain bookstore (which is owned by W.H. Smith) suddenly withdrew such left-wing magazines as The Nation and The New Statesman. (Which seem to move in equal quantities as The Speccie and The Economist.) The vast right-wing media-corporate conspiracy strikes again!
anonymous.... "What turned me off voting Labour for life...Bob Piper's posts here remind me."
Unfortunately for you, there's not enough of you, eh?
Neil "The killing of Argentine soldiers was not murder it was war against people who were trying to kill British soldiers & take British territory. It was certainly legal & I would say moral."
Yes, I think the Geneva conventions tend to regard people trying to leave the Theatre of battle as non-combatants.... the equivalent of shooting a fleeing soldier in the back.
Perhaps when Blair (and his Ministers) are brought to Justice, the usual crowd of war mongering Tories will stand alongside them in the dock.
"I think the Geneva conventions tend to regard people trying to leave the Theatre of battle as non-combatants.... the equivalent of shooting a fleeing soldier in the back"
As a matter of law you are wrong. Retreating soldiers are still combatants & indeed still dangerous, as our history after El Alamein proves.
I would agree with you that anybody guilty of war crimes should be brought to trial & that may well include the previous Prime & Foreign ministers who decided to support an "independent" Bosnia having been informed by the experts that this was certain, at least under the genocidally fundamentalist Izetbegovic, to bring about a genocidal civil war.
Nonetheless this should be done strictly according to law & the case against what you, not incorrectly, call war mongering Tories & Lib Dems (the latter only over Yugoslavia not Iraq, but they more than made up in enthusiasm for what they lost in depth) is not as clear cut as is the case against those cabinet ministers who held collective legal authority.
Between Tesco, Amazon and Play.com, WH Smiths is being forced out of the market. They're crazy if they think people are willing to pay more just because it's on the highstreet. One big retailer who think they can limit our choice, being eaten by other massive retailers with a far wider selection. Who says the system doesn't work?
I think we may be missing two points here, firstly has it occured to anyone that the reason Smiths withdrew the product is that the Economist might have been abusing it's position and imposing less favourable terms on the retailer?
Secondly, that in terms of consumer choice in the magazine market Smiths and Borders are the only major retailers in the country supporting a wide range of titles. I for one do not want to see the market dominated by Tesco because this will mean less choice for consumers and fewer magazine publishers in the market.
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