The Duchess of Sussex’s debut book The Bench is set to be published on 8 June, however, the publisher Penguin Random House (PRH) is currently understood to be in dispute with Britain’s biggest bookseller which could impact the sales of Meghan’s book.
A bookseller normally sources books from publishers on credit and pays them back through capital raised in the sale of books, but PRH has reportedly significantly reduced the amount of credit given to Waterstones, limiting the number of its titles the retailer can afford to buy.
In early May, The Bookseller reported that Waterstones had reduced the visibility of PRH books across its branches in order to avoid running out of titles. A spokesperson for the publisher confirmed to the industry publication that a credit limit had been introduced at the end of 2020 “at a very significant level”, but said that there were “no practical restrictions on trading now”.
In response, Waterstones has pulled PRH titles from prominent display areas in its 300 shops nationwide.
It is reported in The Telegraph, that bosses at the retailer instructed its shops that only a small number of PRH books be visible for customers in stores.
Waterstones claims the measures it has brought in are to protect its stock and not as a form of protest against the prominent publisher.
A spokesperson for the bookstore told The Telegraph: “We are not boycotting PRH titles but we are doing our utmost to ensure that availability for customers remains good despite the lower overall levels of stock. We do this generally by giving their titles less prominent positioning within our bookshops.”
There are fears that pulling the books from window and table displays could have a negative impact on new title releases from the publisher’s authors, including Meghan’s book.
Her children’s book The Bench is a story about the “special bond between father and son”. It is told through the mother’s eyes and is inspired by her husband Prince Harry’s relationship with the couple’s two-year-old son Archie.
The book was inspired by a poem Meghan wrote for Harry on his first Father’s Day, just a month after Archie was born in May 2019.
Since the dispute began in late 2020, none of PHR’s titles have been featured on Waterstones Book of the Month list, despite the publisher and its various imprints making up around 25 per cent of the UK market.
Because of the ongoing dispute between two heavyweights in the publishing world, consumers may find it difficult to find copies of titles from the publisher’s authors, including Bill Clinton and James Patterson, in Waterstones shops.
The Independent has contacted Waterstones and Penguin Random House for comment.