UK book chain Waterstones strikes deal with Amazon to sell Kindle

By Lee Kaelin on May 21, 2012, 11:30 AM

Struggling UK book seller Waterstones announced today that it has signed a commercial agreement with Amazon to offer customers Amazon's Kindle e-readers as well as e-book related services across its almost 300 strong chain of stores in the UK.

Visitors to Waterstones stores will soon be able to purchase the popular Kindle e-readers, as well as digitally browse every book in the store and take advantage of special offers or promotions with the retailer. "The best digital readers, the Kindle family, will be married to the singular pleasures of browsing a curated bookshop," James Daunt, the book retailers managing director said in a statement. founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos said "Waterstones is the premier High Street bookseller and is passionate about books and readers - a dedication that we share deeply." It is not currently clear when Waterstones will begin selling Kindle e-readers, or whether the UK will finally see the Kindle Fire arrive.

The store chain has been struggling for a while now, with consumer demand pushing more towards digital content, according to its MD. "People in publishing believe that books are recession-proof", he said, "but that's simply not true." The retailer enjoyed enormous success in the 1980's, but unfortunately was poorly managed by "people who weren't booksellers" and "made some idiotic decisions," according to Daunt.

Interestingly, in an interview with the Telegraph last year, Daunt labeled Amazon a "dispiriting" place to shop, and even went as far as to say the online retailer's business tactics were "utterly ruthless." He then summed it all up: "Unless you are offering more to customers and are doing it better than Amazon you are going to lose."

Waterstones, which is the UK's largest book seller is currently in the midst of a store refurbishment scheme that will create dedicated digital areas, free Wi-Fi and in-store coffee shops for customers.

User Comments: 4

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Tygerstrike said:

Leeky was there any mention other then an agreement? Is Amazon looking to buy Waterstones?

Leeky Leeky said:

The full statement is linked in the article Tygerstrike. I personally doubt Amazon would be interested in purchasing the book store chain, I think its more along the lines of the retailer trying to get with the times, and embrace e-readers instead of shunning them as would be typical for book stores.

Guest said:

It's a strange move, effectively embracing something which could put them out of business. I think there will always be a place for real books, just like newspapers will probably never disappear completely. This does smack of desperation.

It's not really e-readers which are hitting sales at Waterstones, it's a combination of factors including, an increase in second hand book sales (at charity shops) brought on by the recession, studying moving away from the traditional high mark up text books to web based documentation - deteriorating standards of literacy among school leavers is also a big factor.

There's also the fact that, as with the music and film industries, publishers have been getting away with inflating the price of books to way in excess of what the average person is prepared to pay.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Umm did they not remember what happened with Borders when they agreed to a deal with Amazon?

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