This is the text of an article that appeared in the Guardian, Tuesday, 6 October.
The UK’s largest book retailer is removing Amazon’s Kindle ebooks from its stores nationwide and replacing them with print books due to “pitiful sales”. Waterstones, which teamed up with Amazon in 2012 to sell the electronic reader in its stores, will use the display space for physical paperbacks and hardbacks instead. James Daunt, the managing director of the retailer, told The Bookseller: “Sales of Kindles continue to be pitiful so we are taking the display space back in more and more shops It feels very much like the life of one of those inexplicable bestsellers; one day piles and piles, selling like fury; the next you count your blessings with every sale because it brings you closer to getting it off your shelves forever to make way for something new. Sometimes, of course, they ‘bounce’ but no sign yet of this being the case with Kindles.”
The move comes after physical book sales at Waterstones rose 5% in December 2014 at the expense of the e-reader.
It appears this trend is not unique to Waterstones. Figures released by Nielsen Bookscan show sales of print books for the first 36 weeks of 2015 rose by 4.6% (worth £739.5m) when compared to the same period in 2014.
This is the first time the print market has seen year-on-year growth at this stage of the calendar year since 2007.
Douglas McCabe, analyst for Enders, told The Bookseller it was no surprise Waterstones was removing Kindle devices from its shops. “The e-reader may turn out to be one of the shortest-lived consumer technology categories,” he said.
The last comment is astonishing and not unlike the Victorians declaring as they did, that everything that could be invented, had been invented. Waterstone’s aren’t selling many Kindles because most people buy them from direct from Amazon and as they are fairly reliable devices, once bought they don’t need replacing for a while. E-readers like Mp3 players are here to stay as they can do something that the competition can’t – allow you to carry 300+ books (or songs) on a single device. No one wants to see the end of bookshops but the sooner they, and publishers see the advent and growth of e-books as complimentary and not a rival, the better it will be for everyone.