As U-turns go, Waterstones’ new agreement with Amazon is pretty amazing. Only last month the British bookstore chain’s MD, James Daunt, was calling Amazon a ruthless money-making devil. Now, Waterstone’s stores will have an “Apple-store-like” display area for selling Kindles. The company will not disclose how much commission it will get from Amazon, nor how Amazon will detect which books have been bought as a result of a visit to Waterstone’s. The whole episode carries the odour of desperation, I feel. The Verge has an interesting take on the background.
Actually I love Waterstone’s. In the last three years I have spent many a happy hour browsing their shelves and downloading the digital editions from Amazon to my iPhone. Will Waterstone’s now expect commission if I access the Kindle store while on their premises? And how will they know unless I am using their wifi?
Let’s hope Waterstone’s have not introduced a Trojan horse into their well-stocked emporiums. I can’t help feeling this new tie-up will be the making or the breaking of the bookstore chain.