Waterstones have done a deal with Amazon where they will sell Kindles and ebooks in their stores alongside print versions. This is a far cry from much of the book publisher and retail stories, most are complaining that they can’t compete with online retailers and ebooks, but Waterstones have decided they can make both work together.
James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, said “At Waterstones, we are committed to improving our bookshops quite radically to offer the best possible book buying experience. It is a truly exciting prospect to harness also the respective strengths of Waterstones and Amazon to provide a dramatically better digital reading experience for our customers“.
I have to say I like Waterstones, I like being able to browse the shelves and pluck a paperback or two to read. Waterstones are putting coffee shops into their stores – I can see the attraction of a quiet afternoons reading over a cup of tea to while away a rainy afternoon. That’s nostaligia though, digital ebooks are the future and by allowing customers to thumb through the shelves and then purchase a digital edition Waterstones could easily capture some of the trade they are losing. Without offering digital versions customers will simply browse and then buy digital versions elsewhere.
Of course the book industry is likely to see this as a loss. Amazon is their biggest online threat and by embracing Kindle rather than an open standards platform Waterstones are buying into the company who have disrupted the book trade possibly more than any other in history. However if it helps to keep a good book retailer on our highstreets it has to be a good thing.