WH Smith under fire for failing to stock more Scottish writers
BOOKSELLERS WH Smith are facing fierce criticism for failing to stock more Scottish writers.
MSPs today hit out at the company's centralised buying policy which they say means decisions are taken at headquarters in Swindon on what books are sold in Scotland. And the Scottish Executive was urged to draw up a code of conduct for booksellers to protect Scottish interests.
Two separate motions tabled in the Scottish Parliament on the issue have won cross-party support. SNP Lothians MSP Kenny MacAskill said the company's buying system meant very few Scottish titles finding their way on to WH Smith shelves.
His motion called on the parliament to recognise that, as WH Smith has a 20 per cent share of the Scottish consumer book market, its policy of directing all book-buying from outside Scotland has "a detrimental effect on Scottish writers, the Scottish publishing industry and the Scottish book-buying public".
And it went on to call for the Scottish Executive to set up a group to look at the issue of large companies declining to trade with small producers and draw up a Scottish book retailers code of conduct to ensure their buying systems take into account "the distinctive culture and heritage of Scotland and its localities".
Mr MacAskill said: "Books are ordered in Swindon on the basis of the UK market. Obviously they are going to stock people like Rankin and Rowling.
"But smaller Scottish authors and smaller Scottish publishing houses are not getting their goods on the shelves, which means our writers are not getting a fair crack of the whip and it's undermining Scottish culture, never mind the Scottish economy.
"We are meant to be the World City of Literature - and that does not just mean Scott and Stevenson. We should be promoting the new generation of Scottish writers of whom there are many in this city."
And Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie said a code of conduct could lead to an agreement to ensure good quality Scottish writers and publishers got a fair shout.
He said: "Small Scottish publishers who might normally expect they would find a good local base for their product are not because people like WH Smith and now the supermarkets have such a large share of the market and their purchasing is on a UK basis."
A WH Smith spokeswoman said: "We feel we are taking the steps we should be taking to make sure Scottish publishers do have their books in our stores."
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