British bookstore Waterstones is to start selling Amazon's line of hugely popular Kindle ereaders. The company announced today that it has signed a commercial agreement with Amazon to launch new e-reading services and offer Kindle digital devices through its UK shops. The agreement is part of Waterstones' efforts to upgrade its 30-year-old retail store and refurbish stores.
"At Waterstones, we are committed to improving our bookshops quite radically to offer the best possible book buying experience," said James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones. "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."
Daunt goes on to describe Kindles as 'the best digital readers' and said that Waterstones intends to marry the devices to the pleasure of browsing for books at a store.
Waterstones refurbishment program also includes plans to introduce dedicated digital areas and coffee shops to its stores. The retailer is also planning to offer free WiFi access.
This news will likely surprise readers who remember Daunt's previous statements about Amazon. The Telegraph reports that Managing Director Daunt last year labeled Amazon "a ruthless, money-making devil." Daunt went on to say that the computer is a terrible way to select books.
"All that 'If you read this, you'll like that' – it's a dismal way to recommend books," he's quoted as telling the Independent. "A physical bookshop in which you browse, see, hold, touch and feel books is the environment you want."