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Waterstones, the UK's biggest bookselling chain with around 300 stores, today announced a deal with Amazon to sell the Kindle ebook reader and allow Kindle users to digitally browse and buy books in store. Waterstones is undergoing a major refurbishment of its high street stores to create dedicated areas for digital books with free wifi and new coffee shops. In a YouTube video announcing the deal, James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said, "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."
Reaction to the deal has been mixed. Richard Lea blogging at The Guardian writes, "The risk that Waterstones runs is that by welcoming its greatest rival onto the high street it puts Amazon's device into the hands of its most committed customers." However, analysts have suggested that Waterstones has little choice but to ally with Amazon. "If readers are increasingly downloading books, then it is better for Waterstones to embrace that behaviour than to try and work round it," Douglas McCabe from Enders Analysis told the BBC.
Full details of the deal have not yet been announced.
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