Waterstones customers have complained that £109 Kindle Paperwhites bought from the chain are spoiled by displaying Waterstones-branded screensavers.
Rather that showing the selection of different illustrations which are shown by Kindle models purchased through Amazon, Paperwhites purchased from Waterstones show what customers have branded an “ugly advert”.
The bookshop’s website has received several complaints from unhappy customers. One poster on the Waterstones website, giving the Paperwhite a one-star review, said: “Really a shame to force a Waterstones screensaver on a device that is supposed to be ad free. Whatever they may call this it is still advertising. I will be returning mine and ordering from Amazon.” Another one-star review said: “ I really enjoyed reading on it, but after a few days a software update was applied. This replaced the beautiful artwork the device displays when in sleep mode with some ugly advert for Waterstones. I hate it.”
In the US, advertising-supported Kindles are available at a lower price.
Waterstones has said that the screensaver, which was added to the devices following a software update, cannot be changed, and has offered customers a refund. But the retail chain said that it did not consider the branded message to be an advertisement.
In a message sent to customers, it said: “It is our view that this screensaver does not constitute advertising and differs substantially to the advertising-supported Kindles available to the US market. The Waterstones screensaver is a non-dynamic, static image that will change infrequently and not advertise any specific product, offer or website. It is not possible to remove the Waterstones screensaver to replace it with the former Amazon screensaver.” Waterstones added: “We apologise that this change was made without consultation, and hope it does not detract from or alter your reading experience.”