Waterstones to review Booker Prize winner displays after criticism

Malorie Blackman was among those who expressed disappointment at the lack of availability and promotion of Bernardine Evaristo’s award-winning novel

BOOKER PRIZE: This year's joint winners Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo (Photo: Booker Prize)

WATERSTONES HAS said it will review its Booker Prize winner displays after customers and authors complained over the lack of availability and poor promotion of Girl, Woman, Other, the Booker Prize-winning novel from Bernardine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the award.

Shoppers used social media to share their experiences of difficulties as locating the book and encountered displays that only signposted Atwood as the Booker Prize winner.

A spokesperson for Waterstones told The Voice: “Stock availability of Girl, Woman, Other has been extremely limited since the announcement of the Booker and we quickly sold out of the stock we had.

“Further stock will be delivered over the next few days.”

Among those who voiced their disappointment at the poor promotion of Evaristo’s book and success was author Malorie Blackman.

On Twitter, she shared her comments and a photo posted by author David Owen of a Waterstone’s display of the Booker Prize winners in which only two copies of Evaristo’s book were placed amid dozens of Atwood’s.

“This makes me sad. This makes me tired. I’ve seen other bookshops display only Margaret Atwood’s book as winner of the Booker Prize. Do better,” Blackman said.

Replying to the image posted by Owen, one Twitter user shared an image of a Waterstones store, which appeared to only show a display of Atwood’s books, with the following caption: “This was taken in [Waterstones Liverpool], at least that display mentioned Girl, Woman, Other. No mention on the sign, or on any surrounding table on the upstairs displays, and a tiny display downstairs overshone and tiny in front of a huge Testaments display. Pretty disgraceful.”

Another said: “I saw this in my local Waterstones too and was really shocked they didn’t even have a sign somewhere acknowledging Girl, Woman, Other won too. They said the copies had actually all sold out but to me that just sounds like they didn’t order enough of them in the first place.”

Several other customers shared images and accounts of similar experiences at the stores they visited.

Responding to the photo posted of a Liverpool store and claims that Evaristo’s achievement was not publicised, the spokesperson for Waterstones said: “It appears that the shop had a separate Booker Prize Winner display for Girl, Woman, Other, although on a smaller table due to less stock being available. As soon as stock arrives, our shops will be reviewing their Booker Prize Winner displays as a priority to ensure both wonderful winners receive equal due regard.”

Many have criticised the Booker Prize judges for breaking from convention and picking two winners, arguing that they missed an opportunity to make the first black woman to win the award a sole recipient and highlighting that their decision meant Evaristo would receive less prize money than her predecessors.

Atwood, who won with her novel The Testaments, also won the prize in 2000. 

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1 Comment

  1. | Paul Lord

    All rather disappointing but predictable. All the hard work and sacrifice Ms Evaristo and her family only to the let down by another institution. What do WE have to do to have respect.

    I look forward to hearing the explanation…..


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