Amazon is a ruthless devil, bookstore says

It's understandable that brick and mortar bookstores might not have a very high opinion of Amazon, but is it really a 'ruthless devil,' as British bookseller Waterstones' chief James Daunt thinks? That's what he told The Independent in a recent interview.

“They have never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer's interest. They're a ruthless, money-making devil,” he said. Waterstones, of course, has no interest in money-making. Speaking of e-readers, Daunt said that Waterstones is working on one of their own. “Perhaps we'll call it the Windle.”

Daunt doesn't understand why consumers should have to choose between a 'real' paper book and an e-book; why not give them both? “If the bookshop lets you have both and has a product every bit as good as the Amazon one, why wouldn't you do it with a bookshop?”

It's not too unusual to see a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with a digital download code thrown in for good measure, so maybe the same business plan could work for books. Publishers are bound to prefer e-books to physical books, thanks to much higher margins, regardless of the damage they might be doing to booksellers.

Waterstones has been in financial trouble recently. Back in May, the chain was sold to A&NN Capital Fund Management, and Daunt was installed as managing director in June with the task of turning the business around.

It's kind of nice to see Daunt stand up for 'real' books. They're a wonderful respite from our every day, technology filled lives. There's just a magic about books that isn't there with digital counterparts, and sometimes that's worth the inconvenience. On the other hand, comments like calling Amazon a 'ruthless devil' don't do much other than make him (and, by extension, Waterstones) seem out of touch. We're looking forward to that Windle, Mr. Daunt.

 

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Hello,

Science fiction and fantasy publisher Baen Press has been providing CDs containing portions of their back catalogs with hardback editions of their book. So far, that seems to have had a positive effect of getting readers to buy the remaining books in an episodic series that are not available electronically (or for free).

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

only problem I have with digital books is the fact a publisher at any point in time could technically send a kill notice to your device and book your book is gone, even though you bought it they can take it from you (refernce to kindle doing this once)

paper books you have to come to my house and force it from me

GeoNode said,
Digital books save trees and landfills as long as people dispose of their devices correctly.

how does a book end up as landfill? if a book ever is in that of a bad shape that someone decides to dispose of it instead of donate or resell, it will be compost in no time (a few weeks with enough humidity and other waste, and no more book in your landfill).

Physical books take up more space and need more resources to produce, but they can be passed on and shared without some lawyer getting upset, are harder to track and censor .... and are often cheaper than eBooks.

My kindle is a really nice device to use but I usually only get very cheap or free books on it so far.

Laura said,
Physical books take up more space and need more resources to produce, but they can be passed on and shared without some lawyer getting upset, are harder to track and censor .... and are often cheaper than eBooks.

My kindle is a really nice device to use but I usually only get very cheap or free books on it so far.

Absolutely. And the eBooks cost close to the same amount, and now you can't sell it when you're done with it, or give it to the local library (Or a friend)... I love technology, but I much prefer real books...

Amazon do care about customer. Their customer service is nothing short of amazing. They have replaced my Kindle twice even though it was my fault both times. They immediately resent items when they were delayed in post via first class and let me return the original that arrived later via prepaid labels. I have never had to pay return shipping costs. The people on the phone are very polite and helpful unlike most other customer service I have had to deal with. Also, I don't get the magic. I have read far more books on my kindle than I used to read on paper books and don't tell me that are never frustrated on how to keep a thick paperback open with one hand while in the middle of the book..it's frickin hard. Is that the magic you are talking about?

ugg. Physical books are going to die within next few years or a decade. It's getting harder everyday to afford physical books and caring? OMG...that's a royal pain.

My question would be why would you want paper back books filing up your home. sentamentality, you what to show off what books you have read.... pleae spare me given one can remove the drm from kindle books I dont see the issue with ebooks.... paper backs are essenitally redundant. The avantages of an ebook reading device out weight its cost.

Sylar0 said,
My question would be why would you want paper back books filing up your home. sentamentality, you what to show off what books you have read.... pleae spare me given one can remove the drm from kindle books I dont see the issue with ebooks.... paper backs are essenitally redundant. The avantages of an ebook reading device out weight its cost.

Because, they're magical

Sylar0 said,
My question would be why would you want paper back books filing up your home. sentamentality, you what to show off what books you have read.... pleae spare me given one can remove the drm from kindle books I dont see the issue with ebooks.... paper backs are essenitally redundant. The avantages of an ebook reading device out weight its cost.

The smell of the paper.
*Sees ad for eReader that smells like paper.*

De.Bug said,

The smell of the paper.
*Sees ad for eReader that smells like paper.*

I know, it's just not the same, is it? There's no way to describe it. I know this is a technology blog, and I'm not a Luddite, but I just like books. Reading something off a screen just isn't the same for me.

THolman said,

I know, it's just not the same, is it? There's no way to describe it. I know this is a technology blog, and I'm not a Luddite, but I just like books. Reading something off a screen just isn't the same for me.


I think that's what also makes the Kindle so good. The eInk reads just like paper does (reading from a screen for too long really hurts my eyes!). I do think that paperback books *should* stay. They're a massive part of human culture despite the growing technological advances. Books just take you anywhere and I can really appreciate that. I'm going to try out my iPad's Kindle app soon enough just to test drive it as lugging a 1000-page book around can be somewhat tedious at times!

Sylar0 said,
My question would be why would you want paper back books filing up your home. sentamentality, you what to show off what books you have read.... pleae spare me given one can remove the drm from kindle books I dont see the issue with ebooks.... paper backs are essenitally redundant. The avantages of an ebook reading device out weight its cost.

You should go and read "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury, on your kindle or you can watch the movie by François Truffaut.

Because, they're magical

The kindle is great, no doubt about that, but Books...... they are amazing!

THolman said,

I know, it's just not the same, is it? There's no way to describe it. I know this is a technology blog, and I'm not a Luddite, but I just like books. Reading something off a screen just isn't the same for me.

I have to agree.

smooth_criminal1990 said,

Because they don't run out of batteries

Most of the time I read a book, I am laying in bed with my device charging, so that holds no bar on me. And for me personally, I like books, but I love an e-reader/kindle app. Main (2) reasons: Lighting, lighting, lighting! I hate having to have a light on to read, now I can do it in the dark. And two, biggest for me: Turning the pages, and them falling back on themselves, creasing, folding, and bookmarks. I hate trying to read a firm book, and the pages falling on themselves, when I try and hold it.

Also, all the little goodies like highlighting a word that I am not 100% on the definition, and it auto look it up, marking pages, and phrases. It is all so handy. Books have their magic, but nowhere near the convenience. I do own many physical books, that I still read, but most I have re-bought on the kindle, because of the sheer convenience. Books still make my room look fancy and all that, but they mainly collect dust and space.

Heh;
Independent, 5th December - James Daunt: 'Amazon are a ruthless, money-making devil, the consumer's enemy'
Independent, 7th December - EU investigates Apple and five publishers over e-book pricing

Think Daunt has confused Apple and Amazon

Since when has Amazon not cared about the consumer? I have shopped on Amazon for years, over a decade, really. I started buying the Harry Potter series on it, starting with book 3, that's how long I've been a customer. I shop with them because they DO care about us consumers. Cheaper prices, free shipping, even if you're not a Prime member (with a min. order total, but still) and in most places (at least State-side) tax free. Plus I don't have to wait in line on Black Friday. I don't understand this guy.

Welllllll, yes and no. I'm a big Amazon shopper--prime and all that--but I'm not blind to the fact that Amazon is the Walmart of the Internet, and it carries most of the same baggage. The business itself is HQ'd not far from me, and I hear a few things. It's a pretty soulless place at times, and it's probably safe to say it only cares about the consumer as far as it can make money off of them.

The tax thing is a funny little story, isn't it? Sales tax is unique in that it's supported by both sides of the political spectrum (conservatives like the idea of consumption taxes instead of other taxes, liberals like consumption taxes, but like other taxes because sales tax alone is a smaller chunk of the wealthy's income). Amazon avoids sales tax in many states, and in return, the consumer is supposed to keep a record of these purchases and report their value when they file their taxes every year. The vast majority of shoppers never do this, and as a result this becomes lost tax revenue--revenue that nobody wants to talk about, because requiring Amazon to start charging sales tax to avoid this issue makes people freak out and rage. And yet, these are purchases that ultimately MUST be taxed somehow.

Ah well. The issue will always be met with people who either think the internet should somehow be exempt of sales tax (a dangerous perspective in a world where more and more shopping is done online), that sales tax should disappear entirely (a naive perspective only held by the ignorant), or that it should stay the way it is, and the IRS should be responsible for making sure people pay when they file (a ridiculous perspective that would cause the cost of running the IRS to skyrocket).