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.