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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Supping with the devil

More signs of a Kindle-dominated future

I bought a Kindle Touch yesterday -- the one without the fleeting adverts.  Nice machine, but fiddly to set up, rather like a Navman (think GPS).  And the guy in Dick Smith Electronics told a lie.  He said I could download books via USB cable.  Well, it is perfectly possible to register it on the Amazon site via my computer, but apart from that ... 

I either need to buy a router to fit our cable modem, or spend a lot of time at Macdonalds. Or in the free wifi waterfront of Wellington, though it is a little chilly right now.

Hard on the heels of that, I read that Waterstones in the UK is making a pact with Amazon, and gearing up to sell Kindle . . . which means that they will have to provide wifi in their stores.

According to Publishers Lunch, Waterstones announced "a far-reaching partnership" with Amazon "to launch new eReading services and offer Kindle digital services through its UK shops."

Note that first, however, they have to install wifi in their stores, something they have not done before.

Waterstone's managing director, James Daunt, has all kinds of good things to say about the deal. Not only are the various KIndles "the best digital readers," but there are all sorts of advantages to "browsing a curated bookshop."  (Curated?  What an odd choice of word! Sounds close to censorship, put like that ...)

Accordingly, it is "a truly exciting prospect to harness ... the respective strengths of Waterstones and Amazon to provide a dramatically better digital reading experience for our customers."

His announcement on YouTube is getting a lot of hits, indicating a great deal of interest in what is basically a turnaround.

Back in December, Daunt was quite negative about Amazon, saying that they "never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer's interest. They're a ruthless, money-making devil."

Amazon ceo Jeff Bezos is perfectly ready to forget and forgive.  He says, "Waterstones is the premier high street bookseller and is passionate about books and readers - a dedication that we share deeply. We could never hope for a better partner to bring together digital reading and the physical bookstore." While Amazon has had a number of retail partners for the Kindle devices, this is their first ereader alliance with a book chain.


Rick Spilman said...

Waterstones confuses me. If I am not mistaken, they did a small deal with Kobo about a year ago where they carry Kobo readers. As of January they were supposed to be close to a deal with B&N.

They currently sell ebooks in epub format so that they are readable on the Nook or Kobo readers. Adding wifi to their stores would also allow the purchase of books for non-Kindle readers unless they stop selling in epub.

Will Waterstone now offer only Kindle e-books or will it offer both formats? So far they seem pretty good at playing off the various booksellers.

Joan Druett said...

Interesting question!