Friday 15 December 2017

Bookshop changes 'women's fiction' label after appeal from 'sisterhood'

Adam Lusher

UK Book store WH Smith is to drop the shelf label ‘women’s fiction’ after two customers complained about "condescending, pink fluffiness".

Claire Leigh and Julia Gillick, both 29, were amazed to receive a reply after appealing “in sisterhood” to Kate Swann, the chief executive of the chain.

They had complained after seeing the works collected under the 'women’s fiction' label at a branch in Kent.

Ms Gillick, an English teacher, said: “It was very light, lots of pink fluffiness and there were no classic authors.” She wrote to customer complaints, but received no reply.

Ms Leigh, an NGO worker and Labour activist, wrote directly to the chief executive, saying they did not think women were a “minority or niche area”, and were “deeply offended by this condescending practice.”

They both soon received a reply from Jackie Wing, the head of fiction and children’s trading at W H Smith. She said ‘women’s fiction’ was often used as a trade term for “chick-lit- type authors.”

The Times says Ms Wing added: “I accept your feedback that this might not be the most suitable reference for our customers. In future we will make sure we do not use this description on promotional POS [point of sale] and the current POS will be replaced in our stores by the middle of October.” The company have a branch in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport.

After their victory, the women may continue. Ms Gillick is allegedly considering suggesting to her pupils that they write to a supermarket that is also supposed to have a ‘women’s fiction’ section.

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