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Waterstones stores surrender to Amazonian invaders

Kindle deal to fire up bookseller's bottom line

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UK bookshop chain Waterstones will start stocking Amazon's Kindle ereaders in an attempt to revamp its stores for the digital age.

There were rumours last year that Waterstones might release its own ereader, which sprang from managing director James Daunt's discussion of digital libraries last year as a guest on BBC Radio 4's You & Yours. But it now appears Daunt may have been talking about Kindles all along.

The rumoured ereader was supposed to launch in the first quarter of this year, but Daunt instead announced that his shops would start stocking Amazon Kindles and related services.

"We are committed to improving our bookshops quite radically to offer the best possible book-buying experience," Daunt said in a canned statement.

"The best digital readers, the Kindle family, will be married to the singular pleasures of browsing a curated bookshop. With the combination of our talents we can offer the exceptional customer proposition to which we both aspire."

The Kindle is another step in Waterstones' plans to revamp and refurbish its bookshops. These plans include free Wi-Fi access, new coffee shops and dedicated digital areas in its stores.

Brick-and-mortar bookshops have suffered as ebooks have gained in popularity, with many closing down under the pressure. Early last year, international book retailing chain Borders Group began to shutter stores across the US and in Asia. Subsidiary Borders UK had already gone bust in 2009.

Barnes & Noble, another US book chain, has managed to keep its head above water with its very own ereader, the Nook, while Amazon's Kindle and its Kindle apps for Android and Apple have proved extremely popular.

Neither Amazon nor Waterstones are letting on about the financial terms of the deal for now, but have said that more details on the deal will be revealed in August. ®

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