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Case study: Waterstones

Selling books to save lives: Waterstones partners with Oxfam to raise £1 million for those affected by the crisis in Syria.

Continued conflict in Syria has triggered a severe and worsening emergency, with more than 250,000 people killed and millions more forced to flee from their homes. It was against this backdrop that, in 2015, leading book retailer Waterstones teamed up with Oxfam to help raise vital funds that would get life-saving supplies like food, water and shelter to desperate refugees.

For Waterstones, getting involved in Oxfam's Syria Crisis Appeal provided an opportunity to make a genuine difference, whilst also building engagement with its customers, staff and the wider publishing industry.

Smashing targets

The campaign immediately captured the imagination of book-lovers, Waterstones customers and Oxfam supporters alike.  Not only did the campaign successfully hit the target of raising £1 million - enough to deliver life-saving clean water to over 150,000 Syrian refugees - but it also resulted in: 

  • A boosted reputation for Waterstones with great feedback from new and existing customers.
  • Sales of over 125,000 books.
  • Increased traffic to the Waterstones website, with over 200,000 unique page views of the campaign homepage.
  • High levels of employee and supplier engagement, with staff describing it as "One of the best things Waterstones has ever done".
  • More than 23 pieces of media coverage in the mainstream press including The Guardian, The Telegraph, BBC News and New York Times.
  • Unprecedented social reach with the #buybooksforsyria hashtag trending on Twitter in the UK.

'Buy Books For Syria' achieved widespread social media and press coverage.

I couldn't be more pleased or impressed. It was a fantastically ambitious target and it is wonderful news that it has been achieved.

Bill Bryson, Author

It's great to see Waterstones uniting with publishers and authors to raise money for Oxfam's work with Syrian refugees. Buy a book, help save a life.

Ian Rankin, Author

Brilliant initiative! It's hard to know how to help and this was an easy way for me to do something.

Waterstones customer

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