Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

Waterstone's, the British book specialist, has announced that it is dropping the apostrophe from its name. Does the apostrophe matter, or is it further evidence of the dumbing down of society?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Waterstone's, the British book specialist, has announced that it is dropping the apostrophe from its name.

James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstone's has ditched the apostrophe before the trailing 's' in order to make the brand more appealing to the 'digital world of URL's and email addresses'.  Daunt was brought in to run Waterstone's in May 2011.

Daunt said 'Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling. “It 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.”

With the removal of the apostrophe, it is obvious that the book store no longer belongs to Tim Waterstone who set the business up in 1982 and sold it to W H Smiths, another bookseller in 1993.

The removal of the apostrophe has wider implications than simplicity over URL naming. Does it really 'make more sense in this digital world'? McDonalds's and Kohl's see no reason to remove the apostrophe, why should Waterstones?

Apostrophe protection?

John Richards of the Apostrophe protection society was unhappy about the removal of the mark. 'You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.’ he said.

Commentators are not sure that this latest move will turn the company around saying that the removal of the apostrophe represented a 'de-brand' not a re-brand.

But is the indignation over the loss of an apostrophe justified? Are we dumbing down our language to accommodate Twitter and text speak? Does it really matter that we lose a possessive apostrophe in a branding exercise? Are the pedants right?

Should we really be so irate that Waterstones, selling books about grammar should eliminate the apostrophe? Does it really matter that people are making such a fuss?

Or should we let the apostrophe go -- and leave it to market traders to collect all of our spares?

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