Waterstones Managing director James Daunt, who has previously called Amazon a "ruthless, money-making devil", struck a more positive note, calling the new venture an "exciting prospect". "We needed to solve the digital question," he said. "We think this makes the Kindle experience better as you can now read digitally and enjoy the pleasures of browsing in a physical book shop."
Now determined to move into the digital age, Daunt explained the deal in a recent YouTube video, describing the "Kindle family" as the "best digital readers" on the market. However, he denied Waterstones was "forsaking" the physical book, but said some of its customers found ebook readers more convenient. "Digital is very much an adjunct to the reading of physical books," he said. "They in no way replace the pleasure from having a bookshelf at home, and the tactile experience of reading a physical book. This will complement and strengthen the traditional attributes of the bookshops to which the company remains fundamentally committed."
Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos was today full of praise for the book chain. "Waterstones is the premier high street bookseller and is passionate about books and readers – a dedication that we share deeply," he said. "We could never hope for a better partner to bring together digital reading and the physical bookstore."
Amazon itelf is, however, a controversial player in the books industry. Its dominance has seen it taking on the role of retailer, publisher and even librarian, causing both publishers and retailers to complain that its aggressive pricing is undermining the success of the industry as a whole. In its most recent results Bezos boasted that 130,000 titles were now exclusive to the Kindle store and that its "Kindle Owners' Lending Library" was also proving popular.
Last month the Guardian reported that Amazon.co.uk paid no corporation tax on the profits generated by last year's UK sales of £3.3bn – and is under investigation by the UK tax authorities.
Source: The Guardian