Waterstones is in desperate need for an e-Book solution that they can market in all 300 of their retail stores in the United Kingdom. The bookseller has not been directly selling content, but making thin margins on every digital sale people make from the Kindles they buy from the shops. Salvation might be at hand, as Waterstones is in negations with Tesco about their Blinkbox Books platform.
In March 2014 supermarket chain Tesco unveiled their Blinkbox books platform that gave loyalty card holders an avenue to use their points to download bestselling e-Books. The platform turned into a full blown digital store, where content can be purchased and used on a myriad of e-readers and tablets. Last week, Tesco offloaded Blinkbox movies to TalkTalk, reportedly for between £25-30m, and Blinkbox Music has been sold to Australian music company Guvera for an undisclosed sum.
In a recent interview with Financial Times CEO James Daunt said that Waterstones currently sells e-books in a “very inefficient and poor manner” and that with the rising popularity of tablets, Waterstones needs a platform for e-book sales that works on all devices.
I think Waterstones would be the best suitor for the Blinkbox Books platform, as the service is already tied to the loyalty card platform and integrating it with the booksellers service would be a walk in the park. I know that Waterstones Amazon contract expires soon and Blinkbox would provide a homegrown e-book distribution solution that they can market in all of their stores and is more or less hardware agnostic.