Meghan's book launch in could be hampered by shop and publisher row

Meghan’s book launch on UK High Street could be hampered by row between Waterstones and Penguin Random House – with retailer threatening to hide all the publisher’s titles away on back shelves in dispute over credit

  • The Bench by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, could be hit by publisher seller row
  • Waterstones and Penguin Random House are locked in dispute over credit level
  • The booksellers are not prominently displaying PRH books currently in store
  • It is because the publisher has lowered the credit available to the shops
  • It could mean The Bench is not front of store and instead featured on shelves 

Meghan Markle’s children’s book launch could be hindered and see copies in ‘less prominent positions’ than others following a row between its publisher and Britain’s biggest high street bookseller.

The Duchess of Sussex’s infant-friendly tome The Bench is due out on Tuesday and was expected to arrive with near-regal fanfare and publicity.

But a row between its publishers Penguin Random House and Waterstones means it could be relegated from front of house to the less glamorous normal display areas.

The fiction fracas is over how much credit PRH extends to the bookseller – in layman’s terms how many copies it can have in the shop.

This has in turn prompted Waterstones to put the publisher’s titles away from prominent displays and instead position them in shelves and even stockrooms.

A spokesman for the chain said: ‘We are not boycotting PRH titles but we are doing our utmost to ensure that availability for customers remains good despite the lower overall levels of stock.

‘We do this generally by giving their titles less prominent positioning within our bookshops. 

Meghan’s book is out on June 8 and was expected to feature in prominent book store displays

The Duchess of Sussex said the book – which will sell for £12.99 ($18.99) – would explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’


The potential problem has been caused by a row between Waterstones and publishers PRH

‘Waterstones are currently operating with reduced credit terms from PRH, the only publisher in the UK to place any limitations on our ability to trade.’

The Telegraph reports the shop has insisted the measures are to safeguard stock and not as a protest against Penguin.

It has also been suggested none of the publisher’s books have been on Waterstones’ Book of Month list as the row raged.

The Society of Authors, the UK’s trade union for professional writers, warned: ‘There is understandably some concern among the author community about this. We’re talking about the UK’s biggest publisher and the UK’s biggest high-street bookseller.

‘Whatever supply and contractual disagreements these businesses are experiencing, they both have a responsibility not to let them impact authors and the readers who want to enjoy their work.’

Meghan’s £12.99 ($18.99) book is inspired by Prince Harry and her son Archie and comes illustrated with pictures of a red-headed soldier. 

She said the idea for it was sparked by a poem she had written for Harry on Father’s Day the month after Archie was born and would explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’. 

The story, which will be published on June 8 by Random House Children’s Books, will be illustrated by bestselling Californian artist Christian Robinson, who was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt.

Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside. A media release said the book featured a ‘diverse group of fathers and sons’ 

In one illustration by artist Christian Robinson, a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap is seen holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window, in a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: ‘This is your bench, Where life begins, For you and our son our baby, our kin’ 

It is not known whether this bench, as sat upon by Meghan and Harry, provided any inspiration

Who is Christian Robinson, the artist Meghan Markle chose to illustrate her first children’s book

Christian Robinson, 34, is the American illustrator behind what Meghan Markle dubbed the ‘beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations’ in her first children’s book The Bench.

The Duchess of Sussex said she ‘worked closely’ with the California-based artist to depict father-son relationships through ‘an inclusive lens’.

Robinson was born in 1986 in Hollywood, California.

The Bench’s illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan’s home state of California and has previously worked with Sesame Street and Pixar

He was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt.

He used drawing as a way to ‘make space for himself and to create the kind of world he wanted to see’, his website states. 

Robinson – who is now based in Sacramento, California – studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts.

He worked on animations with The Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios.

During an internship with Pixar, Robinson was asked to do some drawings of characters for the film Up.

Pete Doctor – Up’s director – spotted his illustrations and asked Robinson to make the children’s-book version of the film.

From there, Robinson did various projects – including teaching children art – before he was ask to illustrate more books. 

His drawings for New York Times bestseller Last Stop on Market Street – about a young boy’s bus journey – won him several awards, including a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

A publicity release said Meghan, who chose to use her title on the cover of the book, wanted the story to be told through an ‘inclusive lens’ and will feature a ‘diverse group of father and sons’. Meghan will also narrate the audiobook costing $4.99 – which together with the hardback version could earn her millions from sales. 

In one illustration, a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap is seen holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window. This is a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: ‘This is your bench, Where life begins, For you and our son our baby, our kin’. 

The royal, who went by the pen name ‘Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’, said in a statement: ‘The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born. 

‘That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. 

‘My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.’ 

It is not known if Meghan has received an advance for the book and whether any of the proceeds will be donated to charity, but a branding expert has suggested it would have already netted her £500,000 following a ‘bidding war to secure her first venture’.

Images from inside the book shows a boy being lifted into the air by a red-haired man in military uniform as a woman weeps from the window.

The words accompanying the image say: ‘Looking out at My Love and our beautiful boy. And here in the window I’ll have tears of joy’.

Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside.

The words say: ‘From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy’. 

A media release reads: ‘Inspired by her own husband and son, The Duchess of Sussex’s debut touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.  

‘Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Bench gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.’

The press statement described the Duchess of Sussex as a ‘mother, wife, feminist, and activist’ who ‘currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens’. 

MailOnline has approached Penguin Random House and Waterstones for comment. 

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