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Why bookshops should fight competition from Amazon with less – not more – branding

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When debate heated up earlier this week concerning a major British book retailer’s operation of stores resembling independent sellers a little too closely, some outraged customers accused the company of deception.

But according to the managing director of Waterstones, the bookseller in question, this more unusual approach to branding is all part of his company’s jostle for market share with online retail giant Amazon.

James Daunt, Waterstones managing director, told CNBC via telephone that “the only way to counter Amazon” was to win customer loyalty, rather than reducing prices. For Daunt, this was best executed with an understanding of the “need to be idiosyncratic to high streets.” As far as Waterstones was concerned, he was keen to “overturn the conventional idea of branding,” that fonts, logos and signs should all be uniform.

Daunt detailed that he was pushing a “culture change” at the company which embraced the mindset of independent sellers, and…

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