Future of paper books doubtful as Waterstones strikes deal to sell Amazon Kindle

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.

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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.

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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.

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The incompetence in tech retail

Let’s face it. We all buy technology of one form or another. Many of us buy our gadgets online for savings and sheer convenience, but sometimes you need to actually try something before you buy. High street stores are everywhere these days, complete with friendly and ‘knowledgable’ salespeople to guide you to the right products and decisions, but not all is as it seems.

Circulating around Digixav are numerous stories of employees at leading British retailers not having a clue about the products and services that they are trying to sell to the public. Here I have compiled a list of some of the worst of our experiences for your entertainment and warning. Remember that all of these stories are true and have been witnessed by the Digixav team.

  • A hand scribbled description note for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc in a Carphone Warehouse store stated that the phone was sporting an ‘8.1 mega pixle’ rear camera.
  • Advertising material in a Carphone Warehouse store shows BlackBerry Curve specifications with a dummy model of an HTC Salsa, thus confusing two smartphones that could hardly be more different.20120107-213406.jpg
  • After his chain had been featured in an advert for the new Motorola RAZR, a Phones4U employee had no knowledge of the device other than its name despite the fact that people had come in requesting it.
  • A label for a Lenovo desktop PC in Currys states that its 2nd generation Intel Core i3 CPU is 2.7x faster than your old PC. This is very misleading as the i3 chip is in fact slower than many processors that have been available for a number of years.20120107-213452.jpg
  • The entire sales team of one Currys store had no idea of how the Kindle 4 lighted covers worked as the contact points had changed from those of the Kindle Keyboard. How can they try and sell a case for £50 if they have no idea how it works?
  • A dummy Samsung Wave II is on display in the Carphone Warehouse with no explanation as to what it was.
  • A Currys employee was left confused as he had no knowledge of what a flash drive was. He had to be reminded that it was the correct term for a memory stick.
  • Another upside-down price tag in Currys. I see these whenever I visit my local branch.
  • In December 2011, a Carphone Warehouse employee said that he did not expect the Lumia 900 to launch in the UK as, in his words, ‘it has been out in America for ages’. I played along with this, and he stated that it was just the 800 with a ‘4G’ LTE radio inside and at the exact same size of 3.7″. This is clearly incorrect as Nokia and AT&T are set to unveil this device at CES at Las Vegas on Monday. Another Carphone Warehouse employee since informed us that the database confirmed an 8MP rear shooter, a 4.3″ screen and 512MB RAM, but we cannot be certain if these specifications are genuine.

In conclusion, don’t believe everything you hear in tech shops. If you are in such an emporium and you hear an incompetent buffoon misleading a fellow consumer, don’t be afraid to butt in and steer them on the right path. Not all salespeople are terrible but the retail industry lacks people with a passion for technology and this is a sorry state for it.

If you have your own high street tale of woe, leave it in the comments or email it to us here.