Waterstones have announced that they will sell Amazon’s popular Kindle e-reader in its UK stores along with their standard paper books. James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, stated that it is “a truly exciting prospect”. He claimed that there is no point in competing with the best digital electronic book readers and so will instead partner with the Kindle, after sales of paper books have fallen in recent years due to the emergence of e-readers such as the Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
Kindle has a massive market share of digital book reading in the UK, and Waterstones will start to take a cut of it
Although Daunt claims that they will harness “the respective strengths of Waterstones and Amazon to provide a dramatically better digital reading experience for our customers” surely they are just shooting themselves in the foot. By selling them in their shops they are further promoting their rivals in the book industry.
Waterstones have even said that they are currently planning their own e-book reader, but whether that will kick off and keep Waterstones alive is yet to be seen.
James Daunt was appointed in his position after Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut bought the bookstore chain from HMV last summer. This new deal comes as a surprise since Daunt accused Amazon last December as being a “ruthless, money-making devil” and said “that they never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer’s interest.” It now seems that they have given in to the ever growing popularity of the Kindle, even though it was believed that they were negotiating with US bookseller Barnes & Noble to bring the Nook to the UK.
This isn’t the only case of Amazon trying to take control, after they released a mobile app where you scan products in a shop and compare it to Amazon’s rival price.
Personally I think that although this could help with Waterstones’ sales, which have fallen over the last few years due to these new ways of reading, they are potentially damaging their book sales and the integrity of their shop. However, I think that they have no choice to keep their company alive and keep customers coming to their shops by offering special Waterstones discounts on the Kindles and hope to draw people in to browse around. Although it seems Waterstones are doing all they can to stay in the now highly competitive market, you can’t help but feel that this is the next step in the decline of the traditional book store we all know and some of us cherish, but also the rise of the e-books, where it will be odd in the future if you don’t own a device capable of displaying such content, as it will become the normal thing for everyone to have. Major publishing companies need to watch out as they too need to change if they are to survive in this rapidly changing market.