Six months ago, James Daunt, the managing director of big UK bookstore chain Waterstones, had this to say about Amazon: “They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer’s interest. They’re a ruthless, money-making devil.”
At the time, the bookseller was in the process of developing its own e-reader. But this morning, Waterstones announced an agreement with Amazon to sell Kindle in its nearly 300 stores, and to launch new e-reading service in partnership with the Seattle company.
“Ultimately, when we thought about it, we had to give the customers what they wanted,” Daunt tells The Bookseller trade publication. “And the best device on the market is the Kindle.”
It’s a key partnership for Amazon. In contrast, the big U.S. bookseller Barnes & Noble is competing head-to-head with the Kindle through its Nook e-reader. Waterstones had previously been reported to be talking with Barnes & Noble about a partnership.
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble recently announced a partnership of their own, with Microsoft investing $300 million in B&N’s new Nook division.