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Tim Waterstone: ‘Even I buy books on Amazon’

The founder of the high street giant says bookselling is in a good place but music retail will not survive

Bookselling titan Tim Waterstone has said the future of the industry is bright, while admitting even he shops on Amazon – the online retail giant often blamed for the demise in high street bookstores.

But music retail is “completely doomed”, he told The Big Issue this week.

Waterstone, who founded the high street bookseller in London in 1982, said of Amazon: “We have exactly the same market share now. We’re the two dominant brands. But here’s the thing, I believe the nature of book buying, online and in person, are completely different. If you know what you want, you’re going to go to Amazon. I do it myself numerous times a year!”

The lifelong book-lover said buying online could never replicate the experience of browsing in a store, saying 70 per cent of sales in Waterstones are impulse purchases.

“Even when people had come in to buy a book, they’d left with five more they hadn’t intended on buying when they came in,” he said.

Waterstone was promoting his new memoir, The Face Pressed Against A Window, which tells the story of how he went from growing up in a home with only three books to founding Europe’s largest bookseller.

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