He’s just playing it as it lays. The stupid decision by Waterstones (which predates him by about four managerial boards) was when they failed to make the drive into digital at the beginning of the century.
Is there any point in Waterstones continuing to invest in an online product that, even if it is as good as Amazon, has conceded far too much ground to ever be able to catch up? Who shops at waterstones.co.uk?
There are two other major calculations to consider: how big is the e-book going to become? And how long will the consumer put up with the proprietary nonsense of the kindle.
If the ebook market is never going to be more than 40% of the total book market in the UK then Amazon are already half way there. Is there any point in Waterstones competing for the remaining share? Could that ever be cost effective? And if the e-book market – as it will – moves to a non proprietary, low DRM market, then long term Waterstones has not so much to fear from Amazon.
Above all, if the bulk of the market remains physical and Waterstones continues its drive to position itself as the home of the top, high value end of the market then it needs to do everything it can to be friendly to its customers and make life easy for them.
I know many people who do their browsing in Waterstones and then make their purchases through Amazon -frequently while they are actually in the store. Amazon have already parked their tank on the Waterstones lawn. It is simple common sense to make a virtue out of a necessity and plant some flowers around it.
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