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Friday, 14 October 2011

W H Smiths Declare War on Amazon

They used to be one of the UK's most powerful High Street booksellers, but the chain has fallen behind in recent years. However they have made a deal with KOBO and are hoping to take the fight directly to Amazon -  WHSmith is to sell a range of  eReaders as it battles to counter the shift away from real books. The chain has signed a deal to stock two eReaders made by Canadian tech firm Kobo, with a starting price of £89. 

The deal will give users access to the largest eBook catalogue in the UK, with more than 2.2million titles and one million free books.The growth of Kindle and iPad poses a huge threat to traditional book sales, which at WHSmith are down by around 4 per cent on last year.

The eBook launch comes as part of a revamp at the chain and follows a strategy of cutting out products with low margins, such as CDs and DVDs, to focus on core areas of news, magazines, books and stationery, a move that impacted sales but boosted profits.Kobo already has five million customers worldwide and is the biggest eBook company in both Canada and Australia.

Profits from stores at airports and stations rose by eight per cent to a record £57million, though like-for-like sales fell as passenger numbers were hit by the tough economic climate.In the United States, retailers such as Barnes and Nobles already sell successful eBook readers. British book chain Waterstone's recently announced it was to launch its own eBook reader


Amazon's Kindle


6in screen
1,400 books





Number of titles
WH Smith's Kobo
£89 for basic model,
£110 for touchscreen
6in screen
2,000 books, expandable with memory card
2.2 million

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