Waterstones is to stop selling e-books from its website and instead divert customers to Kobo’s reading platform for digital sales.
The chain book store will begin informing customers of the change from 14th June and explain how those who already have Waterstones digital libraries can transfer them to Kobo’s platform.
James Daunt, m.d of Waterstones, said he took the decision because the Rakuten-owned e-book company could provide customers with “ultimately an excellence of service we ourselves are unable to match.”
Customers who try to buy e-books from the Waterstones website will be directed to www.kobo.com, with Waterstones presumably benefitting from a cut for every sale it has helped to create, the same deal Kobo has with WH Smith and independent bookshops.
Despite revamping the Waterstones website last year, Daunt has repeatedly maintained the company does not sell e-books as effectively as it should.
Following Waterstones’ latest set of accounts, which saw revenues rise 1% in the year to April 2015, Daunt told The Bookseller the company had “no presence in e-books” and added there were “no plans at all” to attempt to acquire an e-book platform to help the company increase digital sales.
Waterstones’ attempt to acquire Tesco’s e-book platform Blinkbox in January last year, but the deal fell through the Blinkbox subsequently closed.
The retailer also took the decision to stop selling Amazon Kindle e-readers in most of its stores in October last year after sales “came crashing down to zero”. Earlier this month, The Bookseller reported Waterstones e-commerce director Ed Armitage had left the bookshop chain.
Michael Tamblyn, c.e.o of Rakuten Kobo, said: “We are pleased to be working with Waterstones, where we can help a great print retailer by supporting their customers who also love to read digitally. We look forward to ensuring that customers who have built e-book libraries with Waterstones will be able to enjoy them in the future with Kobo.”
Daunt added: “We are very pleased that customers of Waterstones will be able to enjoy their digital libraries through Kobo. It provides them seamless continuity, and ultimately an excellence of service we ourselves are unable to match.”
For those customers who have both Waterstones e-books and Rakuten Kobo accounts, instructions will be provided on how to merge the two.
As of the transfer, Waterstones customers will be able to access their e-books on Kobo’s E Ink e-readers and free e-reading apps built for the most popular smartphones and tablets.