Waterstone’s, the high-street UK book retailer, has decided to throw its hat into the ereader market by launching its own device early next year.
The move will obviously draw direct comparisons with the Nook, which was launched by American book retailer Barnes & Noble in 2009. Along with the Sony Reader range, it has provided the largest challenge to the Amazon Kindle, which leads the market.
The announcement of the new ereader from Waterstone’s was made by James Daunt, the company’s managing director and he specifically referenced the Nook as an inspiration for the move.
Waterstone’s will have to partner with a hardware manufacturer to produce the ereader, and Daunt said the project was "well down the planning line" and would launch in the spring of 2012.
"We in Waterstone's need to offer you a digital reader which is at least as good, and preferably substantially better, than that of our internet rival, and you will have a much better buying experience purchasing your books through us," Mr Daunt told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme.
The ereader market is a growing one and although Amazon doesn’t reveal the number of Kindles it has sold, the number is certainly pretty high, considering it is the online retailers best-selling product.
A recent survey by Which?, revealed that Waterstone's was the is the most expensive major ebook retailer in the UK compared to Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, Kobo and WHSmith. Additionally, Waterston'es average price was higher than print versions, and it was the only store where this was the case.
If Waterstone's want to compete in this market, it will have to make sure that the hardware is competitively priced (sub-£100 ideally) and that they will have to reduce the price of its ebooks, if only for the users of its own ereader.