Home » Amazon, Ebooks, Kindle, Non-US » Is it now the time for something completely different?

Is it now the time for something completely different?

7 October 2015

From Futurebook:

This morning, The Bookseller reported that Waterstones was taking Kindle devices off most of its shelves due to “pitiful” sales.

No great surprise here: the chain’s managing director James Daunt said after Christmas 2014 that device sales, once strong, had tapered off, a reflection of a digital market that has moved beyond its adoption-period.

Daunt has never made any secret that under him Waterstones’ job was to deliver what its customers want: at the time of the Kindle deal in 2012 Daunt said that a number were choosing to read digitally, and Waterstones needed to be in that game [the video of Daunt announcing the Kindle deal is still available via YouTube].

Yet he also maintained that there was room for both types of reading: that the Kindle would not entirely displace the need and desire to read physical texts.

. . . .

Should we take Waterstones’ move to de-stock Amazon’s Kindle as another signal that the era of the dedicated e-reader is over? Or simply that Waterstones, like Barnes & Noble, wasn’t a good seller of tech? In other words, is it Waterstones, or the Kindle that we should be worried about?

In response to the second question, Amazon says no. The company said it was “pleased with the positive momentum and growing distribution of Kindle and Fire tablet sales” and added that kindle book sales in the UK were also growing. Amazon said: “Our devices are now available in over 2,500 retail locations across the UK, including Argos, Tesco, Dixons, John Lewis and recent additions like Sainsbury’s, Boots and Shop Direct. Our UK, US and worldwide Kindle book sales are growing in 2015.”

It made a similar point to the Wall Street Journal a couple of months ago. Kobo and Nook, both of which continue to launch new devices, would doubtless agree. When Kobo first arrived on the scene, its founder Michael Serbinis said he expected this to be a 25 year transition. We are one-fifth of the way through.

. . . .

Waterstones wasn’t the best tech-retailer in the business. It’s m.d. didn’t believe in the product, its booksellers only sold them through gritted teeth, and its offer was confused. Yes, you could buy a Kindle, but no you could not buy content for it through Waterstones. At the time of the deal, Waterstones promised a Waterstones specific home-page for Kindle users, but if it was ever implemented I never saw it. Waterstones simply never bridged the gap between the sale of the device and the sale of the content. Instead the chain still sells ePub e-books from its website, pointing out that they can be loaded on to all devices “except for Kindle”.

Link to the rest at Futurebook

Amazon, Ebooks, Kindle, Non-US

12 Comments to “Is it now the time for something completely different?”

  1. More of the meme du jour: “Amazon is hampering innovation”.
    Yeah. Right.

  2. Sign of the times. I’ve switched to my tablet and Kindle app for reading on the go, but I mostly buy audio anyway these days. I have a few Kindles in a drawer here, all uncharged.

  3. The era of the dedicated e-reader may be over as more and more people move to reading ebooks on their phones, tablets, iPads, etc.

    But that does not mean that the adoption of ebooks is over.

    This is a clear indication of the problem, IMHO.
    Yes, you could buy a Kindle, but no you could not buy content for it through Waterstones. At the time of the deal, Waterstones promised a Waterstones specific home-page for Kindle users, but if it was ever implemented I never saw it. Waterstones simply never bridged the gap between the sale of the device and the sale of the content. Instead the chain still sells ePub e-books from its website, pointing out that they can be loaded on to all devices “except for Kindle”.

    • I’m sure there was a reason for selling devices that didn’t work with their own content, but I can’t imagine what that reason could possibly be.

    • I will continue to try to read on my phone periodically but I never make it past a chapter or two. When in the dark I use my tablet and did read part of a book in bed the other night on my brand new Kindle Fire with an sd card slot but I much prefer my dedicated e-ink readers. In fact, yesterday, I googled changing a kindle battery for one reader and plan to do the same for a shattered screen today since they have been deleting the features I like most on the newer Kindle ereaders. I can definitely see sales decreasing because many of us are simply sticking with what we have.

  4. I don’t remember if it was the Guardian or the Independent, but when I saw this yesterday the comments were full of people complaining that Waterstones did a poor job of keeping Kindles in stock.

    • Thus poor sales, thus they can drop them due to poor sales — the same way trad pub is saying that their overpriced ebooks are not selling as well as they were when they were cheaper.

      (I’d still like to see Amazon remove all their discounts for books on Black Friday and give trad pub the true gift of agency this Christmas … 😉 )

  5. This makes me wonder if they had other motives or if someone outside the company convinved them to not do business with Amazon. They had plans to build a website for their customers to buy books from them for the Kindles being sold, but then decided not to follow through with those plans. I wonder if this is a move to preserve relatioships with publishers. It seems clear that they set this up to fail, but it is not clear when they changed their plans.

  6. So, I can buy a Kindle at a store, pay sales tax, and have to set it up myself.

    Or, being terminally lazy, I can click on Amazon, have it on my front porch in two days, all set up by Amazon and ready to use out of the box.

    Terminally Lazy wins.

  7. One of the great things about kindles is that you don’t have to take that 40 miles round trip to the nearest bookshop. That goes for buying the device too. I’m sure the vast majority of people buy their kindle online, because that just seems like the logical thing to do. But maybe that’s just me: I shop online all the time – perhaps most days for something or other. I haven’t been into town to go shopping for more than a year.

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