Waterstones is removing Amazon’s Kindle devices from many of it stores as sales “continue to be pitiful”.
The company’s m.d James Daunt said there had been no sign of a “bounce” in Kindle sales, so the company was “taking the display space back” to use for physical books instead.
He told The Bookseller: “Sales of Kindles continue to be pitiful so we are taking the display space back in more and more shops. It feels very much like the life of one of those inexplicable bestsellers; one day piles and piles, selling like fury; the next you count your blessings with every sale because it brings you closer to getting it off your shelves forever to make way for something new. Sometimes, of course, they ‘bounce’ but no sign yet of this being the case with Kindles.”
In response, an Amazon spokesperson said the company was “pleased with the positive momentum and growing distribution of Kindle and Fire tablet sales" and added that kindle book sales in the UK were also growing.
They said: "Our devices are now available in over 2,500 retail locations across the UK, including Argos, Tesco, Dixons, John Lewis and recent additions like Sainsbury’s, Boots and Shop Direct. Our UK, US and worldwide Kindle book sales are growing in 2015.”
However David Prescott, c.e.o. of Blackwell’s, also said that fewer e-reading devices were being sold at his chain, which stocks Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader. “We’re not seeing a great deal of people who are buying an e-reader for the first time now,” he said. “People are buying e-reader replacements, but that’s it.”
Douglas McCabe, analyst for Enders, said it was "no surprise" Waterstones was removing Kindle device sales from its shops. "The e-reader may turn out to be one of the shortest-lived consumer technology categories," he said.
The Waterstones move to remove Kindle devices from stores comes after figures from Nielsen Bookscan show sales of print books for the first 36 weeks of 2015 were up by 4.6% (worth £739.5m) when compared to the same period in 2014, the first time the print market has seen year-on-year growth at this stage of the calendar year since 2007.
Booksellers have suggested a range of reasons for the recovery, naming the economic bounce, publishers “upping their game”, booksellers sharpening their offer and, chief among them, the belief that the e-book “threat” is “vanishing".
Last Christmas, Waterstones’ chief said the store’s bottom line was hit by a lack of kindle sales in comparison to a year earlier.