The row about Waterstones’s logo change has raised some interesting points – not least that there is an Apostrophe Society that aims to prevent apostrophe abuse.
For those who haven’t heard, Waterstones has scrapped its sans serif marque and reverted to its previous logotype in the more traditional Baskerville font. However, there has been uproar over the possessive apostrophe – or rather, the lack of it. Waterstone’s is now Waterstones.
Its managing director, James Daunt, has called the new name: “a more versatile and practical spelling” for a “digital world of URLs and email addresses”. This seems lazy: the internet should not dictate good practice to other media. Just because so many writers on the web don’t care about correct punctuation, does that mean we should let standards drop? If anything, for web copy to be effective and more persuasive, it needs to be correct and to stand out from all the bad writing that pervades the internet. A bookshop, more than any other company, should care about good writing.
But pedants take note: the company no longer belongs to its founder, Tim Waterstone, so the possessive apostrophe is vestigial, no longer strictly correct. Blackwell’s bookshop, for example, is still owned by the Blackwell family. Is this apostrophe a question of correctness or personal preference and style? What’s your thinking?