Waterstones to buy blinkbox books?

Waterstones, the UK’s largest bookseller, has entered exclusive talks to acquire blinkbox books from Tesco. The chain of 290 bookstores said that its current platform for selling ebooks was “antiquated” and that it needed greater control over its ebook sales.

“blinkbox is a modern platform that delivers books through an app, so that you can read them on any device that you wish to, excluding of course a Kindle, which is a closed system,” said James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones.

Tesco created blinkbox books after acquiring Mobcast, the digital book service, for £4.5 milllion (€5.8m) in September 2012. According to its latest financial statements for the year to February 2013, blinkbox books posted a pre-tax loss of £2 million on sales of just £70,000.

The retailer last week sold blinkbox movies, its video streaming service, as well as its telecoms business, to TalkTalk as part of a radical plan to restore the retailer’s fortunes aimed at saving £250 million.

The talks come as Waterstones is poised to break even in 2015 after years of losses. Since it was purchased by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53 million in 2011, it has invested millions in renovating its stores. The chain intends to open at least a dozen stores this year.

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