Reuters reports a trading statement from the UK's HMV Group, which includes leading bookseller Waterstone's (link from Clive Keeble).
In January, the Group commented on the difficult sales trends in the UK, in the current financial year, and these trends have apparently persisted during the balance of the year. In HMV UK & Ireland, like-for-like sales in the final 16 weeks were down 11.4%, with Waterstone's down 5.6%.
Clive Keeble seems to find these figures encouraging, in that Waterstone's appear to have arrested their decline in sales. So, if I understand the situation correctly, business is not exactly booming, but things are not going down the tube at quite the rate they used to was. Makes you glad you aren't a bookseller, doesn't it?
The one really striking piece of news in the Reuter report, to my eyes at least, is the statement that Waterstone's is terminating its partnership with Amazon, and in the autumn of 2006 will launch its own online service -- a service which will 'reflect better the brand's specialist bookselling credentials.'
I find that very surprising. Are Waterstone's really going to build their own online service from the ground up? (A process which I would take to be enormously demanding in terms of capital and time.) Or are they going to link up with some other online presence? We shall see.