Waterstones and UK Bookshop distribution
I would be grateful if any of you could offer any advice, thoughts or info about the following problem I have discovered today.
In 2009 I published a book called The Unknown Warriors, a WWII book, and paid for global distribution. Apart from various teething issues it went quite smoothly. It showed up on Amazon, then eventually other sites such as Waterstones, and was on Neilsen. I got an article about it in the Daily Mail, which was great. Of course being a self publisher people could not just call into their local bookshop and find a pile of the books on the front table! haha And some struggled, because it had not quite got on the system, so although I got a real boost it was not as good as it could have been. Anyway, a few weeks later it showed up on Waterstones system and everything was in place. At the time it was possible to call individual Waterstones and ask them to stock the book. I phoned most of them, and most took a few copies and overall I think about 200 - 300 in total were sold by them, from the ones they got in stock, the last time I asked one of their staff about 1 year after publication. However, again being a self publisher, once they had sold the one or two they had ordered they did not order again so it never got any momentum.
I then published an updated version and from what I recall paid the distribution and again it showed up on various sites.
Then last year I published another book, this time a WW1 book, called World War One Frontline News. I paid for the distrubution and sent out some review copies. However, there was a large number of WW1 titles published and they were all focussing on the big publisher's authors, such as Jeremy Paxman. So nothing came of that. Also, I discovered that it was no longer possible to do what I had did the first time with Waterstones as they now have a central buying policy and you have to send a book to the Independent Publishers section of their HQ. I did this but was told at the time they were unlikely to stock Lulu titles, but people would be able to request at the counter and order.
Today I thought I do some book marketing, as these 2 months are obviously a time when people buy more books than normal. I phoned Waterstones and after checking they said it was 'not on their system' I then checked both titles and neither were on their website either. They both had been originally. I then had a chat with the Independent Publishing section and was told that Waterstones does not sell any Lulu titles currently and from what I understand it is some distribution issue. Waterstones had an arrangement to get books from L ightning S ource, but not all of Lulu books are published there, so Waterstones say it is not practical for them to sell Lulu titles currently due to this confusion.
I then phoned a random Waterstones branch as a customer and asked them if they had either titles. I knew they would not have them on the shelves, but wanted to see if it was true that nothing shows on their computers. The response I got was there is nothing showing, no book of that name, author or ISBN.
Is anyone aware of this issue?
Can it be changed, what are Lulu doing about it?
I have had no emails or any communication from Lulu to say they can no longer provide books to Waterstones, or if they are working on a solution. I paid 2 lots of Global Reach (which I think was £45 at the time per book) and yet the main bookshop in the UK doesnt have a record of it! I am so frustrated that years after publication I am still having to try and sort out stuff like this and I am really cheesed off that this must have been the case for quite a while and I was not even aware of it.