Waterstones has signed a commercial agreement with Amazon to launch new "e-reading services and offer Kindle digital devices" through its UK shops. Details of the deal, and how it will work in practice, have not been revealed. The announcement is huge surprise, as the chain had been thought to be negotiating with US bookseller Barnes & Noble over using its Nook device.
In a YouTube vide posted about the deal, James Daunt, Waterstones m.d., said the deal would allow Waterstones to sell Kindle books and Kindle e-books in the Waterstone's shops and through the Waterstones' website. "We needed to solve the digital question," said Daunt. "It makes the Kindle experience better," he added.
According to Waterstones, the digital initiatives will build on the UK group’s on-going investment plan to upgrade its 30-year-old retail chain. This incorporates a major refurbishment programme and other innovations including dedicated digital areas, free wi-fi access and new coffee shops, all planned for 2012.
In a statement Daunt said: "At Waterstones, we are committed to improving our bookshops quite radically to offer the best possible book buying experience. It is a truly exciting prospect to harness also the respective strengths of Waterstones and Amazon to provide a dramatically better digital reading experience for our customers."
He added: "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.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and c.e.o., said: “Waterstones is the premier high street bookseller and is passionate about books and readers – a dedication that we share deeply. We could never hope for a better partner to bring together digital reading and the physical bookstore."