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Wednesday, 25 November 2015 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

With the festive season approaching in Europe, it’s a good time to ask if a Kindle or e-book reader will be on your present list this Christmas. I pose the question because Waterstone’s, one of the largest bookstores in the United Kingdom has said that it is taking the device off its shelves this year to stock more copies of printed books.

Inside a book store, illustration.

Due to “pitiful” sales, Waterstone’s will remove e-readers from its shelves
and replace them with printed books

The news comes three years after the store agreed to a tie-up with Amazon, which did at the time seem a bit like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving or killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Customers who bought a Kindle would not be likely to come back for a printed version of something they could download in a matter of seconds from their sofa.

Now according to James Daunt, the Managing Director of Waterstone’s, their sales of Kindles had been “pitiful” and he welcomed every sale they made because “it brought the day closer to getting them off their shelves forever”. Doesn’t really sound like a partnership made in heaven I think you will agree.

Now you might suggest quite rightly that Mr Daunt has a vested interest in downplaying the allure of an e-reader. But as regular readers of my Landa blogs will know, Mrs Mulvaney became a convert a few years ago and today would not be without her Kindle device, so I can see the matter from both sides.

Amazon have responded to Waterstone’s news by saying that they are very pleased with the sales of their Kindle and tablet devices which are available from around 2,500 UK retailers. So is it just Waterstone’s who are suffering?

Technology Can’t Replace the Experience of a Physical Bookstore

I must admit that when I go into their stores I do so for inspiration from the shelves; I want to be tempted by a well printed and bound book, take time to browse what’s on offer and read a few pages before making a purchase. The fact that my local Waterstone’s bookstore has also got a branch of Costa Coffee makes the whole experience of buying a printed book a much more pleasurable experience for me than purchasing a new phone, laptop or tablet from the computer store.

There are also many other people like Mrs Mulvaney who are now owners of Kindles and of course these are not disposable items. At any one time she has got around thirty books on her carousel, purchased when the price has dropped to a level that she considers acceptable. We both shop in book stores and will be doing so again in the run up to Christmas as we look for presents for family and friends.

While I think the Amazon success story will continue to run, there is still going to be a niche for Mr Daunt and his book store colleagues if they focus on the buying experience rather than convenience. Maybe this was one of the factors that induced Amazon to open their own brick-and-mortar bookstore.

While the jury is still out on how that venture will fare, I feel confident that printed versions of books have been around for a long time and that there is still plenty of life in paper and ink.

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Landa S10 - Printing Press