'Read for Free' Kindle offer planned at Waterstones

'Read for Free' Kindle offer planned at Waterstones

Waterstones will create a unique Kindle experience for customers in stores including a planned "Read for Free" offer, managing director James Daunt has revealed.

The new Amazon Kindle, Kindle Fire and Fire HD models will hit Waterstones shelves on 25th October, with pre-orders already coming in at the chain bookseller.

Speaking to independent publishers at the Independent Publishing Guild’s Digital Quarterly meeting yesterday (11th September), Daunt said: “We hope we will be able to introduce a number of features to Kindle that are unique to Waterstones and of real interest to the broad demographic of readers that we at Waterstones attract, predominantly serious readers.” 

Waterstones-specific Kindle screensavers, bestseller lists and a Read For Free offer are among the plans. Read For Free is used by Barnes & Noble in the US, with the company allowing customers to visit a store with a Nook device and read e-books free for up to one hour per day. Daunt said that the plans would require “work from Amazon, considerable work from us and agreements with publishers as to how we use their data".

While Waterstones has control over price-setting for devices, digital content will be sold and priced by Amazon. Daunt said that Waterstones.com would continue to sell ePub format, and that in the long term Waterstones would like to sell devices itself. “Looking forward we would rather be selling this content ourselves, we would rather have our own devices out there," he said. 

Daunt admitted to "substantial difficulties" in developing the working relationship with competitor Amazon. He told the IPG meeting: “There are substantial difficulties for us around working with our major competitor but we think we have an agreement which protects some of the most significant bear traps that sit there, and there are some major upsides for us. 

"We have an interest in selling digital product and . . . I think above all and without doubt that is what our customers expect of us."