Archived news: 23 May 2012
We are very concerned about the challenges confronting high-street booksellers, and firmly convinced that their survival is essential to ensuring that a widely diverse range of titles continues to be published and that those works have their best chance of attracting potential readers. Indeed we are in talks with the Booksellers Association about ways in which authors might be able to help (watch this space).
There is obvious logic in Waterstones ensuring that it offers readers what they actually want – which these days unquestionably includes Kindles and ebooks. It is also easy to criticise ambitious new moves, without offering any better solutions. On the other hand, it is impossible not to feel uneasy about the even greater concentration of book retailing into the hands of Amazon (the OFT may well have something to say about the proposals one imagines). It is also disappointing in that the arrangement can only reinforce the perception that e-reader and Kindle are one and the same. Championing another e-reader would have been good.
Other e-readers exist e.g. the Kobo (promoted by WHSmith), Barnes & Noble’s Nook (US only so far), and others are being developed (e.g. by Eason in Ireland); and ebooks can be read on Apple devices. But even then… Amazon, with its massive list of Kindle-formatted works, also sells apps which allow owners of many of the other e-readers to access Kindle-formatted works (i.e. access them from Amazon and in due course Waterstones).
We hope for the best, but warily.
Kate Pool, Deputy General Secretary