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Summary:

UK bookstore chain Waterstones has signed an agreement with Amazon to sell the Kindle in its 300 stores and “launch new e-reading services.” The news is a blow for Barnes & Noble, which was rumored to be working with Waterstones on the Nook’s international launch.

Waterstones
photo: HMV Group

UK bookstore chain Waterstones has signed an agreement with Amazon to sell the Kindle in its roughly 300 stores and “launch new e-reading services.” The news is a blow for Barnes & Noble, which was reportedly working with Waterstones on the Nook’s international debut.

“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,” Waterstones managing director James Daunt said in a statement. “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.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos 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.”

Waterstones also plans to refurbish its roughly 300 stores this year, adding “dedicated digital areas, free WiFi access and new coffee shops.”

Barnes & Noble gets cut out

The announcement — with Daunt referring to Kindles as “the best digital readers” — appears to rule out the possibility of Waterstones signing a deal with Barnes & Noble. That partnership has been rumored since last year, and Barnes & Noble is working with UK app developers, but the London Book Fair in April came and went with no news.

Microsoft invested $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s Nook and college businesses last month and will pay $25 million a year for the first five years to help fuel international expansion.

At an app developers conference in March, Barnes & Noble said it won’t open international stores, but it’s running out of major UK chains to work with: Amazon now has Waterstones, and WH Smith partnered with Kobo last year.

Daunt says customers wanted the Kindle, not the Nook

“We asked ourselves, ‘what do our customers want?’; the answer was the Kindle. Once we’d done that this was self-evidently the best deal,” Daunt told The Bookseller:

Daunt said the two businesses had started talking only ‘relatively recently,’ admitting that he had looked at other options but rejected them. ‘Ultimately, when we thought about it, we had to give the customers what they wanted. And the best device on the market is the Kindle.’

  1. They are sleeping with the devil..lets see how good this will be for their brick and mortar stores. Amazon is a company forcing brick and mortar stores to close. Dumb move waterstones.

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  2. Mindbendingpuzzles Monday, May 21, 2012

    This is somewhat strange given that Waterstone’s has one of the largest collections of ebooks for sale in Adobe Epub format. A format that can be read on a Nook but not on a Kindle as far as I recall. I wonder if part of this deal will allow Waterstones to start selling in Kindle format?

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  3. They will go the way of Borders book chain the US that also partnered with Amazon to run their web site and then went belly up a couple of years later. Book store chain partners with Amazon that want to kill all book store chains?!! These guys are total nuts.. So said, Waterstones will soon be yet another book chain to go soon.

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  4. Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) publishing agreement with the historic book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has led the latter to file for bankruptcy as it tries to make its $3 billion debt go away. The partnership with Amazon was doomed, as sales of hardcover books fell sharply in a large part due to Amazon’s influence, while Houghton piled up more and more debt.

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