The UK bookstore chain Waterstones announced today that it plans to release its own eBook reader.
James Daunt, Waterstones’ new managing director, mentioned in a radio interview that he was inspired by the Barnes & Noble Nook, which he sees as the one device to truly challenge the market dominance of the Kindle. Daunt is relatively new to Waterstones; he was brought on board after the bookseller was bought out by the invest group led by Alexander Mamut.
No details were released on the new eReader, but given that Waterstones has no hardware development experience it is easy to predict what Waterstones is probably going to do. It seems likely that it will not actually develop a new eBook reader. Instead they will probably license a design from a Chinese manufacturer and put their brand on it. That is actually much more common than you might think; it’s how many mid-level American and European brands find their new gadgets.
One problem with this idea is that the hardware is nothing without an eBookstore to go with it. The Waterstones eBoostore is nothing to write home about. Until that is fixed it will not matter how great the eReader is; customers will still buy eBooks elsewhere.