Waterstone’s, Britain’s largest high-street book retailer, has announced plans to release its own ebook reader. Speaking to the BBC, managing director James Daunt said it had been inspired by the success of American retailer Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble released its own reader, the Nook, in 2009 and has enjoyed considerable success.
Mr. Daunt said the company planned to release its as yet unnamed ebook reader in Spring 2012.
Which? research reveals Waterstone’s ‘most expensive’ for ebooks
If Waterstone’s wants to be successful with its upcoming ebook reader, it may have to improve its prices. Recent research conducted by Which? discovered Waterstone’s was on average the most expensive of the five online stores examined.
Its average price was £5.69, 60p more than WHSmith and 56p more expensive than the average print copy price. Amazon’s Kindle store was the cheapest, closely followed by ebook specialists Kobo.
The Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating book publishers, too, due to an alleged unfair pricing practice known as ‘agency pricing’ that some feel sets the price of ebooks unrealistically high. It’s expected to announce its judgement later this year.
For more info, read more about who sells the cheapest ebooks.
Ebook sales surging
All indications show ebooks sales are on the up. A study published in August found that Brits are Europe’s most prolific ebook buyers, accounting for close to half of all Western European ebook sales.
In March the Publisher’s Association revealed a year-on-year increase in ebook sales of 300%, up from £4 million to £16 million. At the time Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association said:
Academic and professional publishing, which embraced digital platforms over a decade ago, continues to lead the field. But now that technology is putting e-reading devices into consumers’ hands, we are starting to see the rapid growth of digital sales in the area too, as consumer publishers develop digital formats to reach wider audiences.
Amazon, who leads the market with its Kindle ebook reader, has never revealed precise sales figures for its online store. However, it does say it sells more Kindle books than paperback and hardback books in the US.
Would you buy an ebook reader from Waterstone’s? Let us know in the comments.