Like Amazon, Daunt focuses on customers
It is not surprising to discover, from pieces in the Mail and Telegraph, that James Daunt is exasperated with press coverage of his deal with Amazon Kindle.Reading his earlier interview with Roger Tagholm in Publishing Perspectives, one concluded that Daunt had never described Amazon as a "ruthless, money-making devil". But the phrase was already in the cuttings file, and it has cropped up in just about every piece about the deal. "It's just not the sort of thing I would say," he tells the Mail, in vain no doubt. "He sounds a bit fed up, and looks fairly exhausted," the Telegraph reports.
The many critics of the deal have stated that Waterstones is merely driving business to a competitor. However, as Philip Jones has written, Daunt may not have been thinking about how to compete for ebook sales, but about how to make his stores as attractive as possible. His customers enjoy browsing for books, and they enjoy reading books on their Kindles. In his stores, he is enabling them to do both, and he is getting a cut from the process. He tells the Mail: "I'm simply asking - what do our customers want? If I can make that work, the personal embarrassment of having to stand up and sing the praises of Amazon is a small price to pay."