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Waterstones Will Stock Kindle: A Reader’s Utopia – or Final Chapter for Struggling Store

In a surprising and bold move, traditional book seller Waterstones has announced that it will begin stocking digital-age eReader, the Amazon Kindle, at its high street stores.

Addressing the growing trend brought forward by the vast and versatile on-the-move ebook platform, Waterstones will make a place between the paper volumes of William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling for the popular tablet range, which recently welcomed the Kindle Touch. This allowing many of the bound paperback and hardcover copies currently available from its own shelves to be downloaded instantly over Wi-Fi or 3G connection from Amazon’s online store.

On the outset, we can’t help but think this is Waterstones naively chewing its own arm off to grab a buck and such a plan would fatally wound the once strong book and print market, as well as the chain which is already struggling in an age of an internet full of reference materials and digital digests (Waterstones was sold off by the HMV group to a Russian buyer early in 2011). Despite our doubts, the whole thing appears to have has been carefully thought out and the entire U.K chain will even undergo a nationwide store redesign based around the use of Kindle gadgets to keep customers coming back.

“The best digital readers, the Kindle family, will be married to the singular pleasures of browsing a curated bookshop” – says Waterstones CEO Jeff Bezos, who as confidently as the Captain of the Titanic, promises a rewarding journey for Kindle owners with exclusive content and free Wi-Fi available in-store.

Combining a traditional reading venue and a hub for digital downloading sounds like a reader’s utopia, but just like the social and technological utopian future of Byron Alden Brooks’ “Earth Revisited” – this is, for now, a fantasy left only to the imagination.

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