High street retailer Argos intends to increase its online book range from 500 to 5,000 titles over the next month.
The chain store, known for stocking a large range of non-food products, launched its books category on its online store last month with 500 children's titles. The retailer had previously sold a small range of children's titles through its in-store catalogue.
The company, which has a large presence in the toys market, saw children's books as a natural progression in its youth offer. Argos said it now planned to grow its range 10-fold, with a move into the adult books market.
The store intends to stock popular adult fiction alongside non-fiction titles such as biographies and cookery books. There are as yet no plans to feature its own online book chart, or to expand the offer into its 700 British and Irish stores.
A spokesman for the Home Retail Group, to which Argos belongs, said: "Argos launched Argos books with around 500 children's titles as it was a good business fit with Argos customers who purchase toys and gifts. The Argos books website will expand to around 5,000 titles during the next month. The range will be focused on family selection and will include fiction and non-fiction and it will cover biographies, sport and food and drink including celebrity chef titles."
Retail experts have called Argos' move into bookselling "interesting but unexpected".
Robert Clark, analyst at the Retail Week Knowledge Bank, said: "The company has a wide range of products and is looking to increase its sales and sees this as an easy area to get into. Argos is a major supplier of toys, and children's books is part of that marketplace. Argos is also well set up in terms of book distribution and supply, it is a well-oiled machine."
However, he added that it is a "little surprising that it has chosen this route considering it is going into competition with the Amazons of this world".
Clark said it was a case of "wait and see" as to what impact Argos may have on the book market. "I shall watch with interest to see whether they perform, but I'm not sure Argos' traditional customer-base would necessarily think to buy books from Argos. It is easy enough to get out of if it doesn't work for them," he added.