Daunt: 'tens of millions' going into Waterstones refit

The Waterstones decision to sell Amazon Kindles and e-books has provoked widespread discussion in today's national press, with many commenting on m.d James Daunt’s previous criticism of the internet retailer. Daunt has also revealed that owner Alexander Mamut is putting "tens of millions" into the Waterstones store refurbishment programme.

The Times says Waterstones has “embraced what many had thought was its self-declared arch-enemy” by agreeing to sell Amazon’s e-reading devices and e-books, comparing Daunt’s plans to refurbish stores with wi-fi areas to stores of Amazon’s US rival, Apple.

The article says Daunt’s move has “disappointed traditionalists” but features Daunt defending his move not to bring his own e-reader into stores, as he was rumoured to be doing with Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Daunt tells The Times: “The reality is that the investment you require to produce really compelling devices is enormous. Amazon were the first to start and have thrown about as large and unlimited a budget as its possible to throw – exercising it extremely well.”

In The Guardian newspaper, Daunt says partnering with Amazon to provide digital zones in stores will increase the sales of physical books and adds that Waterstones’ Russian billionaire oligarch owner Mamut is putting "tens of millions of pounds" into the store refurbishment programme which will see roughly 100 of its stores refitted this year.

“Digital is very much an adjunct to the reading of physical books," Daunt told the newspaper. "They in no way replace the pleasure from having a bookshelf at home, and the tactile experience of reading a physical book. This will complement and strengthen the traditional attributes of the bookshops to which the company remains fundamentally committed."

The Daily Telegraph suggests the arrangement with Amazon, to come to stores in the autumn, may lead to Waterstones offering “Kindle bundles” giving discounts on the e-book version of any hardback that a shopper bought, which Daunt said was a possibility. Daunt told the newspaper: “The whole focus is what can we do to give customers what they want? We have all sorts of ideas and we are talking to publishers about them."