The 55-year-old, tall, slim and soft-spoken, has almost 30 years of bookselling in the UK behind him, first at Daunt Books, the small chain of upmarket shops he founded in Marylebone in 1990 and then at Waterstones, which he took over as chief executive in 2011 as it risked sinking into administration. Waterstones turned profitable in 2016.
Mr Daunt credits the recovery to his decision to make the chain act more like an independent bookshop, with local managers empowered to stock the titles they think will suit their particular markets. He’s plotting a similar strategy now.
“It is relatively simple. Fill bookshops with the books their customers want,” he says.
Whelp, I guess I’ll see you in the Rhianna/Self-Help/Cookbook section.