December is the month the nation's booksellers go into overdrive. With Christmas twinkling like a Lottery win, they will probably shift more books in the next three weeks than in the other 11 months together. After a sluggish autumn, the signs are encouraging: The Bookseller reported on Tuesday that week-on-week sales of printed book have soared by £5.5m compared with 2011, as shoppers realised the time to purchase Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child for their brother-in-law and the new biography of Dickens for their dad had finally arrived.
All booksellers will be wondering if more punters will come through their doors than will buy online. But the managers of the 290-odd branches of Waterstone's will have an additional concern: trying to impress their new boss.
It's seven months since James Daunt took up the biggest challenge of his life, when he was appointed managing director of the chain by its new Russian billionaire owner, Alexander Mamut, and given the task of making its shops profitable and its 4,500 staff content.