Waterstones gives up on its apostrophe and changes its logo

  • Move sparked outrage among customers
  • Punctuation experts say it’s ‘grammatically incorrect’
  • Twitter users warn the change is another step towards the ‘extinction’ of the apostrophe

John Stevens

Last updated at 11:44 AM on 12th January 2012

For 30 years it has been a sight to gladden the hearts of all who like to see punctuation used correctly.

Now, however, the bookshop chain founded by Tim Waterstone is dropping the apostrophe from its name.

Waterstone’s said it is phasing out
the apostrophe in its logo because it is no longer ‘practical’ in the
age of the internet and email addresses.

'Plain wrong': Angry punctuation experts say the move is grammatically incorrect

‘Plain wrong’: Angry punctuation experts say the move is grammatically incorrect

But the move sparked outrage among customers and punctuation experts who insist that the apostrophe should remain.

John Richards, chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society said: ‘It’s just plain wrong. It’s grammatically incorrect.

‘If Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s can get it right, then why can’t Waterstone’s?

‘You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.’

James Daunt, who became managing director last year when the chain was sold to a Russian billionaire, said: ‘Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling.’

But the adjustment also appeared to be a slight to Tim Waterstone who founded the chain with a single store in Kensington in 1982.

Mr Daunt said the change ‘reflects an
altogether truer picture of our business today which, while created by
one, is now built on the continued contribution of thousands of
individual booksellers’.

former investment banker started his own chain of bookstores, Daunt
Books, in 1990, but with only six stores it is dwarfed by Waterstone’s
296 outlets nationwide.

James Daunt started his own chain of bookstores, Daunt Books, in 1990 but it has only six stores

James Daunt started his own chain of bookstores, Daunt Books, in 1990 but it has only six stores

Twitter users warned that the change was another step towards the ‘extinction’ of the apostrophe.

‘Seeing as Waterstone’s thinks the public is too stupid to manage apostrophes, maybe it’s time they just stopped selling books,’ one user wrote.

‘Waterstone’s is now officially called Waterstones. You sell BOOKS, idiots. As in language and proper grammar and all that stuff. Remember?!’ wrote another.

The bookseller announced the removal of the apostrophe at the same time as it revealed a U-turn on a previous rebranding.

The retailer’s logo will revert to
its old Baskerville typeface after a trendy redesign a few years ago
resulted in the ‘W’ being in lower case.

The latest attempt to reverse the chain’s decline in sales comes after HMV sold it to Russian businessman Alexander Mamut last year.

Mr Waterstone launched the store in 1982 with £6,000 of redundancy money from WH Smith, before selling it to his former employer for £47million 11 years later.

He tried to buy back the chain in 2006, but failed.

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Deckchairs and Titanic I should have thought. I love bookshops and shall regret their demise. BUT I book I saw at Christmas that was just right for a friend of mine was £20 at Waterstones (see no apostrophe :)) and £11 on Amazon. It is a shame but a fact. We are lucky to have charity shops to fill up the vacancies on our high streets.

Im no expert, all I have for English is 2 A’s at GCSE, but if we break the word Waterstones down we get water and stones, stones already being in its plural form so why the need for the apostrophie? (Please do correct me if I’ve missed the point, im just curious)

– Rob, London, 12/1/2012 09:15 – Wow. I hope you have wit to match Oscar Wilde. I love the English language and your comment literally pained me!

The problem is not the apostrophe, it’s how to compete with Amazon. Waterstones is useful for looking at books before buying them cheaper off Amazon, but not that useful as all they seem to stock now is celebrity trash.

It’s time we gave up on the apostrophe. Hardly anyone knows how to use it and it is rarely of any practical benefit. Ditch the apostrophe!
– Rob, London, 12/1/2012 09:15 #### It has one very practical use: in revealing the level of a person’s education. Sadly, that applies to many DM posters…

Well, I shall not be buying a book from a firm that doesn’t respect the English language.

Bought three items in the Waterstones sale, in each case I was charged full price in spite of the sticker on the front and the salesgirl basically accused me of theft. Have been an advocate of Waterstones for years and want a bookshop in every highstreet but my experience has been tainted, especially as they no longer seem to stock new books by anything other than celebrities, have been forced to use amazon to get books that I’d expect to see in Smiths, let alone a ‘booksshop’

Well, if we are talking about the correct usage of the apostrophe, it is John Lewis’ not John Lewis’s.
Most of us would go to his possession and not to him.

This is barbaric. Surely this is no less than a sign that the English language is being transformed into an noneducational mess? Technology is not an excuse; many other businesses hold apostrophes in their names, and they manage to cope just fine. The last thing the youths of today, with the tragically growing level of incompetence for the written word, need is a popular BOOK store to display an incorrect use of grammar. I’m appalled.

“‘Waterstone’s is now officially called Waterstones. You sell BOOKS, idiots. As in language and proper grammar and all that stuff. Remember?!’ wrote another.” – Don’t you just love the irony?

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