PDA

View Full Version : Waterstones to stop selling Kindles



mirandashell
10-07-2015, 08:36 PM
because they sell so few and want the space back. They've also had a bump in book sales the first half of this year.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/06/waterstones-stop-selling-kindle-book-sales-surge#comments

Silenia
10-07-2015, 09:46 PM
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.

Might be, but I think it's also in good part like...people don't actually need to have more than one working Kindle or other e-reader at a time under most circumstances.

So most of the people who are interested in e-readers probably already have one and only need to replace it if it breaks, gets lost, gets stolen or if a different brand offers a significantly better experience/whatever. (And even under those circumstances, not nearly all of those sales will take place in brick-and-mortar stores)
People who aren't interested in owning an e-reader have little to no reason to buy one--probably not even as a gift, since the people who want one mostly have one.

With books, even people who normally don't read much might buy one particular book or another simply because they've heard so much about it, or because it looks like it's straight up their alley, or because they're required to read it for school or study, or as a gift, or what have you. People who do read a lot have plenty of reason to buy multiple books, or books at multiple times.

After all, already owning, say, Gray Mountain by John Grisham is not a reason to not buy Lee Child's Make Me.
Already owning a Kindle is a reason to not buy another Kindle.

Roxxsmom
10-07-2015, 10:07 PM
A couple of thoughts about kindles and sales decreases:

1. Once someone owns one, they're unlikely to buy another for a long while.
2. ipads and tablets now run software that allow people to purchase and read kindle books (and nook, and kobo).
3. A brick and mortar bookstore tends to attract people who like paper books, so they may not be the best place to hawk kindles (which can be purchased online at Amazon) anyway.
4. From the bookstore's perspective, a sold kindle is a one-time deal that will decrease the number of paper books that customer will buy from them. Why would I sell a device that turns the kind of person who still reads paper books into someone who buys electronic books from my competition (Amazon) instead of coming to my store?

jjdebenedictis
10-08-2015, 12:39 AM
I'm considering buying an eReader (finally), but you know, I'm going to order it online.

As Roxxsmom said, when I go in a bookstore, it's to browse for physical books. I can browse more effectively for electronic goods when I go online; I can find more information on the features, as well as customer and professional reviews, and I don't have to navigate the social issues of interacting with a salesperson whose goal is not always the same as mine.

There is value to getting your hands on the physical book when that's what you're looking to buy. You can read the bits you want and get a much better feel for whether this will make a good sitting-on-the-couch-with-tea reading experience. I just don't find the experience of reading the blurb and first pages online as close an equivalent to the experience I'm seeking as my end-goal.

Becky Black
10-08-2015, 02:24 PM
4. From the bookstore's perspective, a sold kindle is a one-time deal that will decrease the number of paper books that customer will buy from them. Why would I sell a device that turns the kind of person who still reads paper books into someone who buys electronic books from my competition (Amazon) instead of coming to my store?

I was always surprised they sold them. Similarly I'm a bit surprised you can buy ereaders in WH Smith, but at least they have a partnership with Kobo and sell the ebooks for it. And of course WH Smith sells other things besides books. Waterstones selling Kindles makes zero sense.

PeteMC
10-08-2015, 06:27 PM
Good for them - selling something to help their customer base move to their biggest competitor always seemed rather bonkers to me.

Claudia Traveller
10-09-2015, 09:43 PM
I had no idea Waterstones had been selling Kindles - madness!
As for the benefits of browsing in bookshops... without a shadow of a doubt, I buy more books by authors I'm unfamiliar with if I'm in a physical bookshop. I don't enjoy browsing online. Maybe that's another reason why my Kindle is hidden away, unused in a drawer somewhere.

PeteMC
10-10-2015, 12:41 AM
One of the things I love about Waterstones is the little hand-written cards made by the staff members that you see tucked into the shelves recommending certain books (in the SFF section anyway), saying "if you liked <book> then you'll love <this book>" and that kind of stuff.

On Amazon that sort of thing is worked out by a sales data-based algorithm, in Waterstones it's the real opinion of real people who love the same books I do.

I know which one I trust.

Laer Carroll
10-10-2015, 12:51 AM
Kindles which are special purpose readers have been made obsolete by tablets and smartphones because they can be used for lots of things beside reading. The latest Kindles which are cheap tablets have heavy competition by products from other companies. I, for instance, ditched my tablet-style Kindle for the more expensive but more versatile hi-res mini iPad.

PeteMC
10-10-2015, 12:57 AM
Well exactly - I don't do ebooks anyway, but if I did I'd just read them on my tablet or laptop or phone. I think the Kindle as a stand-alone device has pretty much had its chips already.

Roxxsmom
10-10-2015, 01:00 AM
I can't even imagine reading a novel on my smartphone. Maybe it's because I'm old enough my eyes aren't what they once were, and that smart phones aren't my go-to device for games, the internet, reading, and communication, (the way they are for so many people nowadays), but the format isn't close enough to that of a book, and I'd have to turn the font size up so large I'd be scrolling the screen every couple of seconds. I think the appeal of kindles and some other e-readers was that they had technology that made the screen look like a book, and maybe reduced eye fatigue.

Plus, without the back lighting, they had a very long battery life compared to a tablet or a phone. I was thinking of getting one for those reasons, but once I got an ipad, that notion went away. Its screen is even larger than a kindle or nook, but its still small enough to carry in my purse. If I traveled a lot, especially if I camped or spent a lot of time away from outlets for recharging, I could see getting a paperwhite. But the ipad is cool because I can have books from different online retailers on at the same time.

But the fact that they're not selling well at Waterstones doesn't mean they aren't doing well on the Amazon site or that the devices (let alone e books) are on their way out overall. I do think market saturation will cause a plateau with any new technology, though. There will be a sharp spike as early adopters get on board, then a more modest increase/level off as fewer and fewer new users are convinced to try them, and sales become more steady (for the books) or replacement only (for the devices).

PeteMC
10-10-2015, 01:17 AM
Oh heck no, I don't think ebooks themselves are on the way out - just dedicated e-readers. Ebook as a medium is here to stay, although whether it gains any more market share than it already has remains to be seen. I just think that with the increasing homogenisation of technology into $DEVICE_THAT_DOES_EVERYTHING + cloud storage of all your data, any device dedicated to a single function is going to go the same way as the "dumb phone".

Gravity
10-10-2015, 02:43 AM
I have a 2012 Kindle my wife gave me before I went to Saudi Arabia. This past winter I bought my first Android, and it syncs with it, so I don't need to keep that Kindle. Yet I do. Why? Because ... well, my wife gave it to me, and I love her. ;)

PeteMC
10-10-2015, 02:48 AM
Ah, well now that's different - I've kept no end of stupid shit over the years because my wife gave it to me, and I love her :)

andiwrite
10-10-2015, 08:18 AM
4. From the bookstore's perspective, a sold kindle is a one-time deal that will decrease the number of paper books that customer will buy from them. Why would I sell a device that turns the kind of person who still reads paper books into someone who buys electronic books from my competition (Amazon) instead of coming to my store?

^^^ This!

Cyia
10-10-2015, 08:22 AM
Target and Wal-Mart did this years ago. At the end, Target was selling them 2 for 1 to get rid of them because Amazon was eating into their profit margin.

Albedo
10-10-2015, 12:03 PM
I want a dedicated e-reader. If it was also a web browser I'd spend all my time on the internet instead of reading. I've already got a stupid smartphone for that.

Becky Black
10-12-2015, 02:42 PM
I like having my dedicated Kindle, for longer reading sessions and it's supposed to be easier on the eyes. Also, no distraction factor. I will read on my tablet if that or my phone is all I have with me, but it wouldn't be my first choice. The phone will only be for a a quickie of a few pages in a situation I can't be chewed with getting the Kindle out, or the rare times I have neither Kindle not tablet with me, say I'm only carrying a little bag.

Once!
10-12-2015, 02:52 PM
That's a fascinating article from the Guardian. A misleading article, but fascinating all the same. There seems to be a campaign going at the moment to talk down ebooks and promote paper. Here's a similar article from the Wall Street Journal:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/e-book-sales-weaken-amid-higher-prices-1441307826

But when you look more closely at the figures, a different picture emerges. It turns out that some of these reports are comparing apples and pears. The Guardian report compares ereader sales at Waterstones with paper book sales. The headline says "Waterstones to stop selling Kindle as book sales surge". This seems to suggest a decline in the popularity of ebooks over printed books. But ebook readers are not ebooks. As others have said, once you have bought your reader you don't rush to buy another one. But you do keep buying ebooks. So by comparing the sales of ebook readers to printed books, the Guardian (and I suspect Waterstones) are trying to talk down ebooks. They want to present an image of "See! I told you that ebooks were only a flash in the pan."

The Wall Street Journal shows a similar trick. The Association of American Publishers are trying to argue the same point - that ebook sales are falling compared with paper. But they are also being somewhat economical with the truth. They are comparing the profit that their members make from ebooks compared with paper. What they are not doing is looking at the market as a whole. Here's the counter view:

http://fortune.com/2015/09/24/ebook-sales/

This suggests that ebook sales as a whole are staying steady or possibly increasing by 1% a year. The manager of my local WH Smiths put it like this: ereaders are really eating into the fiction section, but WH Smiths are still selling a lot of paper books that rely on photography such as cookery books, guides and travel books. They are increasingly taking shelf-space away from fiction to allow them to stock more picture-heavy books. But of course, the Guardian or Wall Street Journal don't mention little details like this. They have a story they want to tell (ebooks are declining) and they will use any old fact to try to back it up.

I do hate it when journalists and big organisations try to treat us like idiots by manipulating statistics like this. Naturally, they do have a vested interest. Call me old fashioned, but I do like my news to come with at least some impartiality and credibility.

juniper
10-12-2015, 08:58 PM
I think the appeal of kindles and some other e-readers was that they had technology that made the screen look like a book, and maybe reduced eye fatigue.

Plus, without the back lighting, they had a very long battery life compared to a tablet or a phone. ... If I traveled a lot, especially if I camped or spent a lot of time away from outlets for recharging, I could see getting a paperwhite. But the ipad is cool because I can have books from different online retailers on at the same time.


I have an iPad and an iPhone and a Nook e-reader. For actually reading e-books, the Nook beats the others hands down. As you said, e-ink is easier on the eyes, and mine is a Glow Nook which means it has a gentle light-up feature for reading at night. That's useful on planes too. It's small and light and not a hassle to hold or carry.

About once a year I go to a rather isolated place where electricity is generator only and off at night, so the e-reader is great then. The light-up feature and also the long battery. And I read outside a lot there, so the non-glare screen is great.

I do have Kindle and Nook and Kobo apps on my iPad, so I can also use that if I'm just out somewhere. If the Nook goes away, as has been threatened for years, I'll probably get a Kindle similar to it.

ETA: I had a Kobo before the Nook, and the Kobo products are superior, but their website is bad and their customer service sucks, so I switched to the Nook.

Weirdmage
10-13-2015, 04:51 AM
That's a fascinating article from the Guardian. A misleading article, but fascinating all the same. There seems to be a campaign going at the moment to talk down ebooks and promote paper. Here's a similar article from the Wall Street Journal:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/e-book-sales-weaken-amid-higher-prices-1441307826

But when you look more closely at the figures, a different picture emerges. It turns out that some of these reports are comparing apples and pears. The Guardian report compares ereader sales at Waterstones with paper book sales. The headline says "Waterstones to stop selling Kindle as book sales surge". This seems to suggest a decline in the popularity of ebooks over printed books. But ebook readers are not ebooks. As others have said, once you have bought your reader you don't rush to buy another one. But you do keep buying ebooks. So by comparing the sales of ebook readers to printed books, the Guardian (and I suspect Waterstones) are trying to talk down ebooks. They want to present an image of "See! I told you that ebooks were only a flash in the pan."

The Wall Street Journal shows a similar trick. The Association of American Publishers are trying to argue the same point - that ebook sales are falling compared with paper. But they are also being somewhat economical with the truth. They are comparing the profit that their members make from ebooks compared with paper. What they are not doing is looking at the market as a whole. Here's the counter view:

http://fortune.com/2015/09/24/ebook-sales/

This suggests that ebook sales as a whole are staying steady or possibly increasing by 1% a year. The manager of my local WH Smiths put it like this: ereaders are really eating into the fiction section, but WH Smiths are still selling a lot of paper books that rely on photography such as cookery books, guides and travel books. They are increasingly taking shelf-space away from fiction to allow them to stock more picture-heavy books. But of course, the Guardian or Wall Street Journal don't mention little details like this. They have a story they want to tell (ebooks are declining) and they will use any old fact to try to back it up.

I do hate it when journalists and big organisations try to treat us like idiots by manipulating statistics like this. Naturally, they do have a vested interest. Call me old fashioned, but I do like my news to come with at least some impartiality and credibility.

All the statistics published on the last two quarters shows e-book sales have stopped growing, or are declining.
The press has been so hugely proe-book for about 4-5 years now that any article not praising e-books have been seen as suspect by e-book proponents. I've stopped folllowing the sites that are purely pro e-book, so I don't know if they have reported the latest statistics or not. By what I see the e-book fans saying, I'd say they haven't.

What I do know is that I have followed e-book sales since 2010. I remember when Amazon announced they'd allow gifting e-books for Christmas 2011. The e-book evangelists (, some of whom are among the so-called "trusted sources" when it comes to book industry news today,) predicted that e-books would pass paper books in 2012 and that "paper books will be gone by 2015". Because that was what they claimed the growth of e-books showed. The first prediction has yet to pass for the USA, and the Uk is the country in the western world that have gone furthest in e-books apart from the USA. It is very significant when the largest bookstore in the UK reports they feel e-book sales can't support them making space for e-readers.

I don't think e-books will be significant outside the US, and possibly Canada, in the western world. And I'd like to see a brakdown on where US e-book stores really sell their e-books before I am convinced it is really that significant in the US.
To clarify: I am Norwegian, so I've been pointed to amazon.com when I want to buy e-books from Amazon. I've lived in the UK since February 2014, and despite Amazon delivering books to my door* they still refuse to let me buy e-books from amazon.co.uk. (Kobo books are also bought from the US. Not sure if they count as US sales though.)
As far as I know, amazon.com is a paper book store for the USA solely. While it is an e-book store for large parts of the world. If you are going to complain about statistic misuse, I'd suggest looking at amazon.com's paper/e-book ratio first.

ETA: And your "debunking" article from Fortune uses the Author Earnings report as proof... There's a thread or two about that on here...

*I only shop at Amazon when a friend has a book that is only available there in paper. They'd sell it to me directly, but they'd lose money on that. So being a good friend I go to a store I'd never otherwise use.

Albedo
10-13-2015, 05:29 AM
^ the idiotic geo-restrictions are a big thing. I'd buy way more e-books if I was allowed to. Why publishers think having US-only e-book rights is sound business is a mystery.

Weirdmage
10-17-2015, 02:25 PM
^ the idiotic geo-restrictions are a big thing. I'd buy way more e-books if I was allowed to. Why publishers think having US-only e-book rights is sound business is a mystery.
It's not necessarily only the publisher. It's usually an advantage for the author to have the rights split up over several territories, as that usually gets a bigger advance.
Another thing to take into consideration is that it may be difficult to sell print rights in territories unless electronic rights come with them. So, if you sell world electronic rights to a UK publisher, you might find no US publisher will buy your US print rights.

And I also wonder if you have tried more than one e-book store? If a book is available in electronic forrmat it usually is in all the territories it is published in. (And if it isn't, it's likely the reason is that the rights for that territory hasn't been purchased yet.)

Laer Carroll
10-20-2015, 03:07 AM
New products go through what economists call a J-curve.

http://www.investinganswers.com/images/J%20curve%20effect.jpg

At first they lose money. Slowly they begin to take in money until they begin to make a profit. Then the curve begins to rise higher and faster as everyone tries to get in on the action. This is the GOLDRUSH phase. Then the market fills up and the curve levels off. Finally it begins to die, a phase you don't see in the diagram above.

Special-purpose ebooks are in the dying phase. Tablet ereaders (ereading apps) is somewhere on the slowing-of-the-goldrush phase.

thothguard51
10-20-2015, 03:44 AM
One of the things I love about Waterstones is the little hand-written cards made by the staff members that you see tucked into the shelves recommending certain books (in the SFF section anyway), saying "if you liked <book> then you'll love <this book>" and that kind of stuff.

On Amazon that sort of thing is worked out by a sales data-based algorithm, in Waterstones it's the real opinion of real people who love the same books I do.

I know which one I trust.

I suspect some of those cards are done by employees because they truly enjoyed the book, but more often than not, corporate send a list out of what books to do recommendations on...

jjdebenedictis
10-20-2015, 04:42 AM
To clarify: I am Norwegian, so I've been pointed to amazon.com when I want to buy e-books from Amazon. I've lived in the UK since February 2014, and despite Amazon delivering books to my door* they still refuse to let me buy e-books from amazon.co.uk. (Kobo books are also bought from the US. Not sure if they count as US sales though.)That's so weird, that you can't buy from the UK site even living in the UK (especially since my brother could buy from the UK site when he was living in Iceland). But then again, maybe it's not so weird; in Canada, you also have to buy all Kindle books through the American site. You can't get them through amazon.ca.


New products go through what economists call a J-curve. At first they lose money. Slowly they begin to take in money until they begin to make a profit. Then the curve begins to rise higher and faster as everyone tries to get in on the action. This is the GOLDRUSH phase. Then the market fills up and the curve levels off. Finally it begins to die, a phase you don't see in the diagram above.Traditionally, new technologies tend to NOT completely replace the existing technologies. People have both microwaves and convection ovens. They have both land lines and cell phones. Vinyl never completely died; CDs haven't died. I suspect there will continue to be a market for both paper books and ebooks for a very long while. And yes, the gold rush phase of ebooks is very likely over because those initial rushes are driven by people changing to the new technology. Once the majority have finished with that, the boom time is done. For example, when CDs were first introduced, there was a massive surge in music sales because people wanted to replace their existing collections; that only lasted a few years.

Albedo
10-20-2015, 05:17 AM
And I also wonder if you have tried more than one e-book store? If a book is available in electronic forrmat it usually is in all the territories it is published in. (And if it isn't, it's likely the reason is that the rights for that territory hasn't been purchased yet.)
In my experience, this is often not the case: many books are ONLY available as U.S. ebooks, which Amazon US refuses to sell to me, and a local edition never comes out at all.

Weirdmage
10-21-2015, 02:41 AM
In my experience, this is often not the case: many books are ONLY available as U.S. ebooks, which Amazon US refuses to sell to me, and a local edition never comes out at all.

KOBO has sold me e-books that are not available to me from Amazon US. Some local/regional publishers also sell directly, or have links to where to buy. I actually can't remember anyone who doesn't buy exclusively from Amazon (, or refuses to read outside of .mobi format [aka kindle format],) stating they've had a problem with getting e-books for the last 2-3 years. Although to be fair, that could be because the people I know who buys e-books are likely to get the book in print rather than lament the lack of an electronic version.

Weirdmage
10-21-2015, 02:46 AM
That's so weird, that you can't buy from the UK site even living in the UK (especially since my brother could buy from the UK site when he was living in Iceland). But then again, maybe it's not so weird; in Canada, you also have to buy all Kindle books through the American site. You can't get them through amazon.ca.

I thought Canada had its own Kindle store, but maybe it was just the pricing (sales tax) I remember Amazon introducing on the e-books sold there. But then again, that just means the electronic/paper ratio at amazon.com is even more sketchy/useless as a signifier on e-book popularity.

I do suspect Amazon locks in where you first got a kindle app/book from. I got an app for my laptop do download a free e-book (that I never downloaded because it cost $2 to get the free book in Norway). I've seen plenty of people saying they can use US kindles everywhere through the years, so I do think Amazon is not really that bothered on checking were you actually are when you buy e-books from them. (I wonder how the rightsholders in the terrotories where books should not be available from amazon.com feel about that...)