Bookshops - a throwback to yesteryear?

Yesterday the Sunday Times carried an article suggesting that HMV might try to improve its burdensome debt position by possibly selling off Waterstone’s, the nationwide book chain.

HMV acquired Waterstone’s in 1998, long before ebooks and the iPad were even thought of. That said, the emergence of yesterday's story linking Tim Waterstone, the original founder of Waterstone’s, as a potential buyer sees Mr Waterstone linked to the company as a potential buyer for the third time in 10 years. Rumours circulated back in 2001 that he could be on the verge of buying the company back, then again in 2003, 2006 and in the summer of last year as well.

As I have mentioned before, I am not in possession of an iPad nor an e-reader. I can see the benefits of them but I can't escape the fact that I enjoying going in to a bookshop and looking at books before I buy them and I enjoy the actual feel of a book.

But something is clearly very wrong for book retailers; Waterstone’s wouldn't be the first book chain in recent months to have changed hands. Look at Borders, first of all its UK stores disappeared with an alarming speed from the UK high street only to be followed with the US company being forced to file for bankruptcy protection in February.

We can only put this down to books being a consumer item which has not only suffered from the recession and lower levels of disposable income, but has seen technology – by way of the e-reader – rapidly start to erode its market.
I am sure like me there will be many people who still want to be able to go to a good bookshop, browse the books and then enjoy the feel of the paper in their hands. Here's hoping that someone who shares the same sentiments can step in and buy Waterstone’s.

Filed under: retail, online