The Bookseller published a story this morning that I have been expecting to read for most of a year now. Waterstones is breaking up with Amazon:
Waterstones is removing Amazon’s Kindle devices from many of it stores as sales “continue to be pitiful”.
The company’s m.d James Daunt said there had been no sign of a “bounce” in Kindle sales, so the company was “taking the display space back” to use for physical books instead.
He told The Bookseller: “Sales of Kindles continue to be pitiful so we are taking the display space back in more and more shops. It feels very much like the life of one of those inexplicable bestsellers; one day piles and piles, selling like fury; the next you count your blessings with every sale because it brings you closer to getting it off your shelves forever to make way for something new. Sometimes, of course, they ‘bounce’ but no sign yet of this being the case with Kindles.”
Given that Daunt had made similar statements in January, the only surprise today was that it took so long for this story to come out.
And even if Daunt hadn’t made those statements, the ebook market has shifted from ereader-centric to being app-centric. That trend is so well-established that even the WSJ noticed in August just how many people read on their phones.
Fewer people are reading on ereaders, so it would make sense that fewer ereaders are being sold.
The only question I have (it’s one I lack the means to answer and The Bookseller didn’t bother to ask) is just how much effort Waterstones put into selling the Kindle in its stores.
Were the Kindles given a good display, or shoved in the back somewhere? Was there even a display in all the stores, or were the Kindles stuck on a dusty shelf in the store room and only removed when customers asked for them?
I ask because this story reminded me of the lackluster Kobo displays I saw in some Cole’s stores when I was in Vancouver in 2013. If Waterstones’ Kindle displays were similarly unappealing then it would explain a lot about why the Kindle sales are down at Waterstones.
Does anyone know?
image by tonymonblat