Booksellers Update- Waterstone's to launch own e-reader, buying team, book discounts and The Works to expand operations

Waterstone's is to launch its own e-reader in 2012 inspired by Barnes & Noble's Nook.Waterstone's m.d. James Daunt says he wants to rival Amazon's Kindle and that the project is "well down the planning line", and would launch in spring next year.

Daunt  said he believed US bookselling chain Barnes & Noble had managed to win market share back from Amazon by linking the electronic product with its high street stores.  Nook owners are allowed to read for free in Barnes & Noble stores for up to one hour each day.

Waterstone’s is calling for a higher discount flat rate on books in exchange for scrapping its promotion fees, which is a move that has been described as “fairer and more transparent” by some publishers. Indie publishers are particularly in favour.

James Daunt has been carrying out margin negotiations with publishers, proposing the general principle of increasing the percentage of discount it gets for books while dropping charges for promoting titles. This would enable Waterstone's to have more autonomy over the products it showcases. Last week The  Bookseller reported that the chain was dropping its decade-long three-for-two promotion, a move that has also been welcomed by publishers.

It is believed Daunt has asked some publishers for discounts of around 59%–60%, a significant increase for some, although it is thought the terms vary between companies, with many still to reach a final agreement.

The Waterstone's m.d. is also thought to be taking a tougher line over discount levels with the larger publishers than with smaller companies. A publisher liaison team of eight people is also being established which will be separate from the buying team.

Waterstone’s has also recruited people to the new roles in the campaign and range teams, brought in as part of m.d James Daunt’s plans to introduce a new central buying system.

Kate Skipper, formerly children’s buyer, is now campaigns manager. She will support Simon Burke, campaign buying manager, "on all aspects of campaign planning and new title buying".

Janine Cook, formerly fiction buyer in the campaign team, has been promoted to senior fiction campaign buyer and Chris White, previously assistant buyer in the campaign team, will now become genre fiction campaign buyer.

Andrew Lake, previously an academic buyer, will now become academic range manager, with responsibilities for campus and academic strategies as well as core range.

John Lewis has been promoted to non-fiction range manager and has accountability for a team of buyers and all trade non-fiction titles and Clare Randle is the new children’s range manager.

The company will also be recruiting a new children’s campaign buyer.

Discount retailer The Works has said it hopes to expand its stores in the UK by nearly 150, as well as growing its e-commerce business with the sale of e-books.

The retailer has opened 43 new stores this year—bringing its total to 304—but Garry Wilson, m.d. of parent company Endless LLP, said the chain could increase its overall portfolio to 450—an increase of 48% on 2010's figure

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