Waterstones’ E-books Supply Not Threatened By HMV Sell-Off

The sale of UK bookseller Waterstones to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut should not hamper its ability to sell electronic books.

Waterstones’ e-books are supplied through 7digital, the online music and books facilitator that is half-owned by Waterstones’ owner HMV (LSE: HMV). So HMV’s sell-off of Waterstones therefore divorces Waterstones from its e-book supplier..

But 7digital CEO Ben Drury tells paidContent HMV/7digital have a long-term agreement to go on supplying Waterstones with e-books.

And the same goes for aNobii, the soon-to-relaunch book discovery site jointly owned by book publishers and HMV.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Waterstones won’t re-think its digital strategy. One idea might be to introduce its own e-reader in the same way Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) has Nook and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has Kindle.

Drury says the pace of e-book sales growth, especially in the U.S., is “incredible”. “It’s been far faster than happened in music – it’s already overtaken music in some markets.”

Anecdotally, the curve may not appear that great. Drury suspects e-book sales numbers are being “skewed” by Amazon Kindle buyers.

“They’re probably filling their e-readers up a lot when they first get them,” he says. “So I suspect we’re seeing a sligt bubble.”