Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel? Is this the turn-off on a long and winding road?
Maybe it is one of those blips that tend to rattle forecasters before the status quo returns … but the news from the ubiquitous UK bookshop chain, Waterstones, is that sales of Amazon’s Kindle device have taken a massive dive. So much so, that the company describes them as having “disappeared”, according to reports in today’s financial pages.
It is all the more interesting in view of the fact that as recently as 2012 Waterstones joined up with Amazon to sell the Kindle throughout its 290 stores.
However, the latest figures, based on December results, show sales of good old-fashioned books – you know, the ones printed on paper with pages you could flick to and fro and even scribble on, and that yellowed with age and well-thumbed love – rose by five per cent. And did so at the expense of the gadgetty e-reader.
Encouraged by this trend, the company plans to open at least a dozen more shops this year.
The company reckons a refurbishing of its stores and handing more control to individual shop managers was the reason for the reversal. However, it could just possibly be that old thing of Joe and Josephine Public voting with their feet – of knowing and buying what they want rather than being led by the nose to buy what the great god Amazon wants them to buy.
Certainly almost every day seems like rush hour in my local Waterstones, where the small display of e-readers is hidden in a corner well away from the main flow of customers — who are all busy using their hard-earned to buy BOOKS.