Waterstones will begin selling the Kindle Fire HD line of tablets and many of their new e-readers starting in October. The two sides reached an agreement in May for distribution in the United Kingdom. The two companies made strange bedfellows because the CEO of Waterstones has publicly bashed them on many occasions. Yesterday, at an IPG Digital Quarterly Meeting James Daunt shed some light on their business arrangement.
The CEO of Waterstones James Daunt lamented that his predecessors did not develop their own e-reader while the market was unsaturated and not consolidated. His company sold lackluster devices that did not allow customers to buy books right on the readers. When Daunt took over the company his first reaction was to scrap all the woeful readers they currently stocked and made new relationships with Amazon to bring in a big brand name.
One of the new initiates that Waterstones is seeking to employ is to make sure WIFI is available in all of their stores. They will try and emulate the “More in Store” experience that Barnes and Noble pioneered to allow customers to read free books while you are in the store and then be able to make purchases. “We needed to solve the digital question,” Daunt said. “We think this makes the Kindle experience better as you can now read digitally and enjoy the pleasures of browsing in a physical book shop.”
Many Waterstones locations are also undergoing a revamp an the company is spending “tens of millions of pounds” into this endeavor. They are setting up new cafes where customers can drink hot stuff and read at the same time. The Guardian Reported that “The new look stores will feature dedicated digital areas, likened to the Apple store, where customers can test out the different Kindle models and receive tutorials from staff. The exact details of the collaboration are still being thrashed out but ideas include “Kindle Bundles” – giving discounts on the ebook version of any hardback that a shopper bought – and an online digital library that would let shoppers browse through any title stocked by Waterstones. The retailer will “get a cut” when a customer buys a Kindle ebook using its Wi-Fi connection.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.