21May

Kindlestones & Other Stuff

A couple of book-related pieces. First, UK book chain Waterstones has decided to get into bed with Amazon and sell Kindles and Kindle eBooks in its physical stores:

As well as selling the Kindle device, Waterstones will allow Kindle users to digitally browse books and take advantage of Waterstones’ special offers.

In a statement, James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said: “The best digital readers, the Kindle family, will be married to the singular pleasures of browsing a curated bookshop.”

It seems only yesterday, James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said this about his digital strategy:

“We’ll be different from Amazon,” he says, with characteristic ebullience, “and we’ll be better.”

Actually, it was yesterday. Make of that u-turn what you will.

I’m not quite sure what to think of this just yet. The merging of corporate power is always worrying, especially since publishers will be the ones to suffer: they’ll have to stump up even more for promotions and they’ll be made to offer even more discount to this monopoly-to-be. It’s amazing just how much Amazon charges to send out promotional emails. This also means consumers suffer through a lack of choice.

On another level, this could nudge-out self-published authors and smaller presses from a crowded marketplace. Such smaller presses had free reign for a while, but if customers significantly enter Waterstones to browse for books, then they’ll be under the influence of what publishers have paid for in terms of positioning (you think those books just get put in visible places for no reason?), before downloading onto their devices. This means those publishers who pay the most money will probably get what they want; but then again, that’s how the industry has always worked.

All ifs and buts and contradictions, of course, but I do wonder what Mr Daunt is up to. He’s clearly a clever chap, so why the epic u-turn? Is there some unbelievable footnote that we’ve all missed? Are Amazon funding some of the refurbishment and so on? Is it short-termism or a clever long-term strategy? Are Amazon using this as a way to get into physical stores and sell books from their own publishing imprints? Will we see a rebranding as Kindlestones?

Personally, I’d actually quite like to be able to browse and download to my iPad (not Kindle) – but whether that’s possible or not, whether other formats are supported or not, I don’t know. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean DRM is flavour of the month again. I’m still bamboozled as to how Amazon’s shit device can possess such a large share of the market.

Speaking of small presses and self-published authors: this is the perfect example of how a writer should not go about publicising their own books:

I hate to further bring attention to what has since been called: “Mathias’s Meltdown”, but I think his aggressive advertising tactics and willingness to bring negative attention to himself warrant discussion.

It’s worth following. Chuck Norris has nothing on this guy.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

8 comments

  1. “Kindlestones”… sounds painful 🙂 The cynic in me says Amazon made them an offer they couldn’t refuse ($$$$$$$, or rather £££££££). Money talks.

  2. Yes. I would be very interested to know what was offered…

  3. I was discussing this with someone at work earlier, their theory was that it’s a safeguard against Waterstones going the way of Borders. Considering the number of stores that have shut down so far, it may be a wise strategy. I do hope we don’t end up with the DRM debacle again.

    As to the other debacle…I had him at me at 2am this morning, he just did not want to give up. A shame someone like that might give small-press and self-pubs a bad name, to the impressionable at least, but it was pretty damn hilarious. And apparently we’re going to hear about it for DAYS and DAYS. I bet you’re all jelous now.

  4. Perhaps that’s true. I suppose it’s an effort to make the stores relevant again. Brave decision, anyway. Foolish? Only time will tell.

    & Wow, he’s still at it?!

  5. He decried us “Nazis”, and promised to declare “war” on us, and that we would hear about it for “DAYS and DAYS”. I used up all my patience, I had to give up. If for no other reason than to get some sleep!

    I did love when he told me it was fine to be harassing me at that time in the morning because he had an editor in the UK, and how myself, Anne Lyle and others were “spammers” for having more tweets than followers. Some epic head-desk action going on at that point.

  6. Ah, Nazis. Godwin’s Law invoked at last!

  7. At last? That makes it sound like it took him a while to get around to calling them all Nazis. Godwin’s Law was invoked almost immediately out the gate.

  8. Ha! Bless him. I suspected he wasn’t the sort to waste time in becoming an internet sensation.