Waterstone's is to take pre-orders for the Sony Reader from tomorrow (Thursday, 24th July), and will begin selling the device in 205 stores from early September, priced at £199, when it expects "tens of thousands" of e-books to be on offer.
The widely expected move, first reported in The Bookseller in May, sees Waterstone's enter the e-book market in the UK ahead of Amazon, whose Kindle device is currently only available in the US. Borders launched the iLiad e-book reader in the UK in May.
Waterstone's said that it was expecting that "tens of thousands" of e-books would be available by September, with publishers currently converting their titles into the .epub format, which can be used on the Sony Reader. The e-books will be available for purchase from waterstones.com.
Both Waterstone's branches and Sony Centres will sell the Reader from early September. The bookseller and Sony will sell the device exclusively for two weeks before it is made available for other retailers. However, customers will be able to place a pre-order for the device from tomorrow at Waterstone's website, in Waterstone's branches and at Sony's website, www.sonystyle.co.uk.
The Reader is slightly smaller than a hardback and weighs 260 grams. It has sold in the US since September 2006.
A spokesman for Waterstone's said that the e-books would be cheaper than their physical equivalent. Waterstone's said that it would have enough devices to satisfy demand, but would not confirm how many it would stock in its first week of sale.
Toby Bourne, Waterstone’s category manager, added: "Waterstone's is very impressed with the Reader from Sony and we think our customers will be too. It offers a new way of reading that is easy, and convenient, and we’re working with publishers to develop the best range of ebooks we can – classics and brand new bestsellers – to read on it."
Titles expected to be available on launch include Richard Branson's Business Stripped Bare, Jodi Picoult's Harvesting the Heart, Val McDermid's A Darker Domain, and Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.