They'll also have to improve their website and their pricing of ebooks if this is to stand a chance.
Waterstone's is to launch its own ereader in the hopes of competing with Amazon's Kindle next year. The company's managing director, James Daunt, said that he had been inspired by the Nook, US bookseller Barnes & Noble's ereader. A spokesperson for Waterstone's told The Reg he had no comment on the plan, announced by Daunt on …
They'll also have to improve their website and their pricing of ebooks if this is to stand a chance.
And their range. 90% of the time, Amazon have the new books in electronic format, and Waterstones don't.
If this is more to do with the fact that Sony have announced they are going to open their own book store, and thus take sales away from Waterstones, rather than trying to rival Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
And eBooks have saved me from having to tax my DIY skills and add more bookcases...
I have a Kindle, and I love it, but I hope that Waterstones make this work - competition is good, and increasing the profitablity of high street books stores and therefore keeping them on the high street is better - whilst I use the Amazon services a lot, and think they are damn good, I sometimes worry that we're creating a juggernaut that will drive out local shops. There's something magic, for me, about wandering round a book shop (or indeed many other types of shop) and just browsing - you can't get that from an online store.
But not with a partner. That just doesn't work.
B&N at least have access to an enormous (350M people) market; can Waterstones make it work with a market of 60M? I doubt it. Probably better to do really excellent apps rather than getting caught up with the capital risk of hardware. Ironically their plan might have worked better if it included HMV and had video and music on board.
312m according to the US Census Bureau site and some of those would be of non-reading age, and some would be 'sight impaired'
All Waterstones have to do is cut the crap about eBook pricing. We all know that the production costs of an eBook is a lot less than a printed book (paper, ink and distribution are expensive) so just stop bullshitting us and give us eBooks at a reasonable price. Just because it's out in hardback doesn't mean I'm willing to pay £12 for an eBook. You can't justify that price. I have invested in hardware at a substantial cost so stop ripping me off!
Forget your own eBook reader, just sell eBooks at a reasonable price and you will have the majority of the market share overnight.
Publishers now insist on the agency model which allows them to set the pricing, even Amazon can no longer operate the old way and Waterstones has far less buying power. So unless said child was the child of Rupert Murdoch, or a similarly powerful publishing baron it's not so easy.
Publishers want to sell their stuff at a fixed price. Amazon doesn't want the publisher selling the same product for less to another merchant. Waterstones doesn't want the publisher selling the same product for less to another merchant.
The net result is competition practically disappears. The publisher's price is so high it doesn't leave much of a gap between wholesale and retail price. With no competition, it means devices are vertical because there is little reason for the owner to frequent different book vendors because the prices are all the damned same.
It's a horrible, anticompetitive model. I don't even see why publishers put up with it. Ultimately the the biggest gorilla (Amazon) will win and they will find themselves by the balls the way the music industry did with Apple. Worse, Amazon has the financial clout to cut publishers out of the loop entirely and that's what they're already doing with Kindle books.
It's too bad digital books, music, movies don't receive the same kinds of protections under law as physical books. If people actually owned their digital content rather than owning a licence to the content, and could legally transfer ownership for money or free to someone else through any means they felt like, then it would be a massive shakeup for the industry. Brand new books would have to compete with second hand ones, so prices would come down. It would also allow governments to stop slapping VAT onto ebooks because they're books in the normal sense.
Actually the publishers are now holding Amazon to ransom with pricing - refusing to supply any books unless Amazon sell at their chosen prices - it's the Net book agreement all over again. Amazon have taken the cartel of four to the Euro courts.
The costs of manufacturing and distributing a copy of a book come to about 20p, so an ebook isn't significantly cheaper. The bulk of the costs are down to promotion, which is equal regardless of format.
I'd like some kind of buy-the-physical-book-get-the-ebook-free deal.
That does happen with some non-fiction titles. You can pre-purchase an O'Reilly book and get the eBook in a draft version immediately. You get regular eBook updates until the physical book is finally published.
Having said that, I like Kindle DRM... because its so easy to remove...
The ability to connect the reader to your PC (or computer of choice) and upload ebook and documents from other sources without sending these documents through their servers first would win my vote and open my wallet (despite the risk of loosing the moths that live in there).
Hmm. A Pint cos it's Friday.
You can already plug a kindle into your Windows/Linux/Mac device and upload your files directly on to it. The only thing you can't do is buy books with DRM from a supplier other than Amazon.
Just like the Kindle then...
is a rather useful piece of software called Calibre. Unless you want to break DRM with your conversions as they have stated their software will never be programmed to allow you to do it.
Bring the Nook here? They don't compete with B&N (afaik anyways). Why do they feel the need to reinvent the wheel which more than likely will fail mserably just because of the volumes.
Fail coz my crystal ball says so...
If the reader turns out to be good you could always buy it and get the books from libraries on line or other etailers.
eReaders will probably be big sellers, this year (unsubstantiated, personal opinion).
Seeing as their web prices are the same as the shop, you'd hope that to get people to come into their shops to buy a book, rather than wait for it to arrive by post, their "Check local store" type search would be up to date? Sadly not.
So my usual process for buying a book goes something like this:
Find book I fancy - see if Waterstones have it locally so you can have a quick look - go to store if it says they have it - find they don't - check Amazon and find its a good few £s cheaper - order from Amazon.
If the shop price was a couple of quid more than Amazon, you'd often buy from the shop to get instant gratification, but when its more often than not half the shop or Waterstones web price, its a no brainer.
As for e-book prices, forget it, still cheaper to buy the paperback most of the time and its still easier in physical format for technical books and non-fiction with colour photos.
I buy all my books from Amazon for the simple reason that they haven't been all pawed over by browsers in bookshops. Or put back in the wrong place. Or had their spines damaged. Etc. Etc.
I've noticed a drop in quality control recently, many of the last few orders I've had from Amazon have been damaged, some with obvious holes to the packaging from a heavy-handed postie but others have had book damage with no obvious external sign.
Hands up all those people who buy their physical books, magazines and newspapers at exactly one store. Why the hell are these booksellers selling devices which are trying to lock people into their stores?
I hope for Waterstones sake they at least choose to use an industry standard DRM.
If they were really smart they'd go to all their high street competition, WH Smith, Dillons, HMV, Borders, Foyles etc. and produce a device which they could all sell and allowed users to visit any of their online stores and purchase content. Create an ecosystem which allows user choice and competition and they might just prefer it over the Kindle.
If Waterstones really wanted to distinguish their reader and ebook store from the rest they could use their current paper book market share to get publishers to go DRM-free.
"Let us sell your ebooks without any DRM, or we will stop stocking your paper books"
Paper books are still at least 80% of publishers business. Waterstones has about 25% of the UK paper book market, the largest single outlet.
Perhaps they have the clout to pull it off.
Wow, its a loooong time since you had a wander down the high street isn't it? Waterstones ARE the high street these days; WHS hardly stock anything outside the charts, Dillons and Borders are gone, which just leaves Foyles, which is great, but has no brand recognition outside London. On the other hand your idea isn't a bad one, except maybe they should be thinking about a European angle; tie up with the major book chains across Europe to save on manufacturing costs.
Waterstones have to do something in the ebook space or they'll cease to exist, but the publishers don't help and Amazon and Apple make for formidable competition that I don't think Waterstones can handle (although I can think of a couple of ways around agency pricing).
I hammered out a few names from memory without checking.
As for other poster, there is not a chance in hell Waterstones would be able to sell books DRM free except for a few special cases. The publishers wouldn't let them. We all know that DRM is bad, but if it has to be there at least it should be platform neutral. Then you're not locked into one hardware platform or one book vendor forever.
Lets hope it is not a Sony reader clone. Nice piece of kit (I've had one for a couple of years) and absolutely dire user interface on the PC. Thank goodness for 'calibre'
Or possibly let's hope it is a Sony clone but with better PC software?
Gives Waterstones an alliance with other brick/mortar booksellers, and they'll need one given Amazon's tablet ambition. I have a Kindle myself but friends who have Kobo speak highly of it.
The really obvious thing Waterstones should do is let people buy ebooks in their shops.
After going to a shop and having a pleasant time browsing new books, I decide to buy an electronic copy of one for my iRiver, so ask the staff, who are completely baffled at such a wierd request. "We've no idea how to do that.. Why would you want that.."?
So, I go home, and buy from Amazon.. durh..
Bet they don't call it the Waterboard.
The production and distribution cost of a book has a very small impact upon how much it is sold for so expecting a digital book to be much cheaper just because you don't have those costs is wishful thinking.
The vast majority of a books cost is so that any advance to the author can be got back plus the high costs of editing, marketing and support for literature in general. Those costs are still there no matter what format the book is in.
Most writers don't earn enough to make a living out of it and if digital books get a lot cheaper then expect there to be a lot fewer professional authors out there. Cheap / free music means that for a lot of musicians they don't make much on the actual albums they sell but instead have to get their money via touring and merchandise; authors don't really have that option.
I currently buy ebooks from Waterstones (and Amazon, and other ebook sources) - their DRM is industry standard and as easy to strip out as the Kindle stuff.. (allegedly he hastily says. I wouldn't admit to breaking the law, honest guv..). Just don't look at the DeDRM directory on my MacBook..
They also do their stuff as epub rather than Mobi - a definate point in their favour!
Or maybe desperate?
Barnes and Noble got into the ebook business by the simple fact of buying an ebook company Fictionwise.com who already had their own eReader albeit only available to US buyers.So who are the going to buy out that have thier own eReader and a large back catalouge of ebooks.Fictionwise had tens of thousands in all catagories from childrens to PORN.
I'll accept that as reasonable for now, what I can't accept are the typos - the terrible terrible typos. Guys if you are going to OCR your dead tree edition and then sell it to me for 8 quid then I expect you to at least pay a student to read the damned thing and spot the places that the software replaced 'Burn' with 'Bum' etc.
So never mind the price, fix the bloody quality.
I mean, OCR? Surely no modern book does not already exist at the publishers in some form of electronic format?
I think the worst example of that particular issue I came about was a book about the demise of Bear Stearns - throughout the book, it was called Bear Steams.
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