Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Waterstones under the bridge?

It is rather depressing that Waterstones appear to have thrown in the towel on having their own market share on eBooks. Only last year James Daunt compared working with Amazon as trading with the devil and now this...

I wondered why Waterstones eBook manager (Alex Ingram) left the company suddenly in March. I thought it was because he objected to a proposed deal with Barnes & Nobel. Waterstones were meant to be announcing a deal which would see them introduce their own eBook reader called the Wook (A version of Barnes & Nobel’s Nook) but it appears to be because Mr Daunt is happy to sleep with the devil he despised so much this time last year.

Waterstones dilly dallied too long on the Wook deal and B&N went cap in hand to Microsoft for $600M of investment. Expect to see developments coming from Microsoft and B&N in the next 12 months.

I am struggling to see what exactly Waterstones are going to gain from partnering with Amazon. It never worked when Amazon ran Waterstones old website. People will browse in Waterstones stores for books and buy the kindle versions while in store but what % is Waterstones going to make out of that? Whereas Amazon get a foothold in the only decent book chain in the UK and will undoubtedly leverage themselves into a position to buy the chain out within five years. Strategically it all appears wrong from Waterstones point of view. I can only hope Mr Daunt knows what he is doing.

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