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Waterstone's to take on Kindle and Nook with own reader

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Waterstone's is to launch its own ereader in the hopes of competing with Amazon's Kindle next year.

The company's managing director, James Daunt, said that he had been inspired by the Nook, US bookseller Barnes & Noble's ereader.

A spokesperson for Waterstone's told The Reg he had no comment on the plan, announced by Daunt on BBC 4 radio.

The advent of ebooks, and even selling actual books online, has given bricks-and-mortar bookshops the same headaches that iTunes gave high street CD-sellers, and while Waterstone's does sell ebooks and books on its website, it has had a hard time competing with Amazon.

The chain, which is the last one standing in the UK after the demise of Borders and Books Etc, has been in the midst of a transformation since HMV Group sold it to Russian businessman Alexander Mamut.

He brought in Daunt – the owner of specialist London bookshop chain Daunt Books – to turn the bookseller around. Daunt has so far ditched the chain's decade-old 3-for-2 offer and vowed to shake the joint up to rescue its flagging sales.

Barnes & Noble has consistently credited the Nook for its good sales, reporting in the first quarter of this year that sales associated with the device, including the hardware, content and accessories, had jumped 140 per cent to $277m from the first quarter of 2010.

Amazon does not release sales figures on the Kindle, nor tell us how many it has sold, but analysts reckon the etailer will sell around 17 million units this year and make around $3.5bn from all related sales.

Waterstone's will have to hook up with a hardware partner if it hopes to launch its own ereader, as Barnes and Noble did with Foxconn, the well-known Taiwanese manufacturer of iPhones. The announcement of a partnership could well be imminent, however, with Daunt claiming the project was "well down the planning line" and would launch in the first quarter of 2012. ®

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