Leading bookseller Waterstones has today announced a major new deal with the company once seen as a major threat to its business survival, online marketplace Amazon.
The agreement will see Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and digital copies of books become available to buy from Waterstones stores and from its website for the very first time.
Waterstones Managing Director James Daunt has said that the deal forms part of the book retailer’s modernisation programme which will see as many as 100 of its stores refurbished this year with new coffee shops and free wifi being introduced in many locations.
“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,” Daunt said.
“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.”
Daunt took over the running of Waterstones after it was acquired from struggling entertainment retailer HMV for £53 million by A&NN Capital Fund Management Limited last summer.
HMV had been forced to close many of the Waterstones stores due to declining sales, in large part caused by increased competition from online rivals such as Amazon and the emergence of the digital e-reader as a serious threat to traditional book reading.
Rather than try and fight the digital revolution any longer the new management of Waterstones seems to accept that the future of its stores must incorporate both e-books and physical books.
A partnership between Waterstones and Amazon now opens up the possibility that customers to the high street retailer could purchase a bundle pack of both physical and digital versions of the same title at the same time at a discounted rate.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, 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.”
Further details regarding exactly how the new deal between the two companies will work is to be announced this Autumn.