The Duchess of Sussex’s writing career could be hampered by a row between Britain’s biggest bookseller and the UK’s most powerful publisher.
Her children’s book, The Bench, was expected to be released with great fanfare on June 8, but her publisher Penguin Random House (PRH) has become embroiled in a dispute with Waterstones.
The publisher has limited how much credit they extend to Waterstones, effectively limiting the number of books they can buy.
Waterstones has responded by pulling PRH titles from prominent displays across its almost 300 stores nationwide, and tucking books away on shelves and out of sight in storage rooms.
It is understood that bosses at the chain issued orders stipulating that only a minimal number of PRH titles should remain visible for customers in stores, and this could have an adverse effect on sales for upcoming titles such as The Bench.
Waterstones has said these measures were brought in to safeguard stock and not as a protest against the UK’s pre-eminent publishing house.
A spokeswoman for the chain said: “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.
“Waterstones are currently operating with reduced credit terms from PRH, the only publisher in the UK to place any limitations on our ability to trade.”
The bookseller ordinarily sources books on credit then raises capital to pay back PRH by selling the publishing house’s books, but it is understood the chain’s credit was reduced at the end of 2020.
Despite the roster of famous authors signed to PRH, which accounts for around 25 per cent of the UK publishing market, none of the house’s books have been included on the Waterstones Book of the Month list since the dispute began.
As a result of limited stock and reduced prominence customers may struggle to unearth copies of The Bench in Waterstones stores, or source new releases by other PRH authors, including Bill Clinton and David Walliams.