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Tim Waterstone says “Amazon is Discounting us to Death”

29th June 2012

Waterstones founder Tim Waterstone tells the Guardian that Amazon is “smart, single-minded and ruthless – and it is destroying Britain's book industry.”

“No trader has ever been so successful in its concentration on consumer pricing,” says Waterstone.

“Make and build your brand on a reputation for absolutely rock-bottom pricing. Do this single-mindedly and ruthlessly. Even say it upfront, insultingly and aggressively, in your advertising – go, Mr Consumer, go to Harrods or wherever it is, inspect and admire the goods, then come home and buy them from us. Online. At a deep, deep discount.”

Waterstone concedes that the publishers largely allowed Amazon to create its model, and how bitterly they should regret the making of this model.

“In simple terms, Amazon was allowed at its inception to buy from publishers at far, far lower prices than its bookshop competitors. It was a terrible mistake, and a savagely disloyal one. Everyone in the trade knows that now. Not least the publishers, who are finding themselves in all sorts of legal knots as they try, second time around, to control price-setting in the newly emerging and deeply significant ebook market.”

Waterstone claims that new authors, building their customer base, need physical, friendly, expert bookshops.

“Destroy those bookshops – and Amazon is acting to achieve just that – and the very commercial and cultural base to the book industry is destroyed. Once and for all. Like Humpty Dumpty, it can never be put back together again.”

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