Multimedia will be part of Waterstone’s future but maybe it could be a strength, not a weakness, of the store chain to operate in distinct contrast to what consumers expect from online.

A few years back a book called In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore made a splash. It was a polemic against the speed of modern life and tapped into trends such as slow food.

No doubt it sold well in bookshops such as Waterstone’s Hampstead branch, reflecting as it did one of the talking points of the chattering classes. But perhaps it also holds wider lessons for Simon Fox, chief executive of Waterstone’s parent HMV, who today updates on strategy including plans to revive the troubled bookseller.

In January, after a difficult Christmas for Waterstone’s, Fox talked of the need to make the chain relevant in the Google age. He put his finger on one of Waterstone’s biggest problems - the instant availability of information and entertainment online, and the speed and value provided by internet bookselling giant Amazon.

Multimedia will be part of Waterstone’s future but maybe it could be a strength, not a weakness, of the store chain to operate in distinct contrast to what consumers expect from online.

What Waterstone’s is really selling is quality of life, whether that be the enjoyment of time spent reading a novel, the excitement of planning a holiday with guidebooks, indulging in recreation such as sport or providing children with a good start in life through education.

There is a huge audience for all these things, to which books are the channel, and on which time spent is a pleasure not a chore to be got over with.

The point is to execute this in such a way as to prompt consumer reassessment of the chain, shake off its worthy image and promote benefits as well as product. There is much talk these days of convenience, which usually means online. But aren’t shops convenient? No waiting for delivery, instant gratification.

Waterstone’s, the last man standing in books, has a great opportunity. It needs to offer value for money but there can be more to its appeal, as Waitrose has shown in a different market. Waterstone’s needs to become the Waitrose of bookselling.