Recently, for the first time, Amazon sold as many books as Waterstones. Amazon has been operating for the past 13 years and has succeeded in becoming the countries biggest seller of books.
The Managing Director of Waterstones has responded with vigour arguing that Waterstones offers much more than their online rival. He says that those who buy online at Amazon lose out on the option to browse for different books. James Daunt, the managing director “really dispiriting” place to buy books as people who shop on the website are “denying themselves the pleasure of browsing in a bookshop”.
Benefits of Waterstones
- Gives consumers the real bookshop experience
- Consumers get a chance to see the real book they are buying.
- People often attracted by seeing books on display
- Don’t have to wait for post. Can get book on same day.
- Diversification into new products. Waterstones have tried diversifying into new product lines where they face less direct
- competition from online retailers. For example, gift cards and an in store coffee shop. However, this threatens to weaken their
- reputation for being a pure bookseller and further limits the range of books that can be stored.
- Some segments of the book market are still strong like children’s titles.
- Waterstones has strong high street presence.
- Despite growth of e-books still hope for traditional book as it gives a different feel and experience to the e-book.
Strengths of Amazon
- Saves travelling into city centre
- If you know exactly what you want no need to browse through bookshelves.
- Amazon can keep a bigger range of stock that a bookshop can’t
- Consumer reviews give potential consumers a good insight into book.
- The growth in e-books and kindle have strengthen the online retailer. This trend towards e-books is set to continue as people switch
- to the more convenient retailer. Many textbooks no longer come out in hardback form as people switch to the e-book. Reference
- and textbooks used to be one of biggest profit margins.
- Amazon enable independent bookstores to sell via Amazon. This offers new advantages to smaller book retailers, but it is at a cost of smaller profit margins.
- Economies of scale enable lower costs and give them scope to undercut high street retailers.
Who Will Come Out on Top?
It is hard to know exactly what share of the market e-books will eventually end up getting. But, it is going to be an uphill struggle for Waterstones. The decline of the record shop could soon hit the bookshop. The irony is that bookshops are often people’s favourite type of shop. But, people can love the atmosphere of a bookshop but still save themselves 10% buying online and getting it delivered from Amazon.
High Street bookshops will always have some unique selling points over online retailers, but whether this will be enough to survived the online presence of Amazon is another story.