Recently, British book retailer Waterstones announced that many of its stores have ceased sale of Amazon’s e-reader, Kindle. Although this decision was induced by the product’s “pitiful” demand, the e-commerce company does not fret. With the release of their newest version in 2012, the Kindle Fire, Amazon entered their tablet into the playing field amongst strong competitors like Apple. Unveiled at a cheaper price compared to the classic monochrome Kindle sold by Waterstones, the Kindle Fire is expected to cannibalize Amazon sales of the e-paper Kindle, and continues to beat out other basic e-readers.
With increasing Kindle sales for Amazon forthcoming, Waterstones does not regret their decision to pull the product. The company would rather clear their shelves for new book releases, as the book retailer believes that their customers do not equate to Amazon’s Kindle market. Bookstore customers generally visit the store to browse and purchase physical books, while enjoying the sensory experience. Devices like the Kindle detract from that experience.
The decline in sales of basic e-readers does not write off the profitability of e-books, however; Kindle readership is strongly supported through its application across smartphone, tablet, and desktop platforms. E-books offer features untouchable by the traditional book, such as the ability to modify font sizes, share passages, and integrate hypertext. Although the e-book consumer is still ever-present, physical bookstores rejoice as readers seek their products as an escape from the multitude of screens they encounter on a daily basis. This may be an indication that print and electronic books are separate markets, and should be without fear of one overtaking the other.