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Waterstone's plans Amazon Kindle ebook rival

Waterstone's plans to compete with the Amazon Kindle with its own ebook reader.

Waterstone's is going from hardbacks to hardware with the launch of an ebook reader. The highstreet bookshop plans to compete with the Amazon Kindle, inspired by US bookseller Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Waterstone's own digital e-reader will let you download and read electronic books. Ebook readers can store thousands of titles, making them ideal for holidays or long commutes. And they're certainly big business: ebooks outsell paperbacks in the US, even if they do bring a new threat of piracy. Barnes & Noble reckons it will make £1.1bn from Nook ebooks this year.

They're also expected to get a big boost with the long-awaited arrival of a certain wizard in electronic form when Harry Potter hits the Pottermore site.

Ebooks have attracted the attention of the big players: Google Books is an ebook store from the search giant, and Apple has iBooks for the iPad and iPhone. On the hardware side, Sony has a range of high-tech readers such as the Sony PRS-T1, with cheaper alternatives made by the likes of Cooler and iRiver.

But the undisputed king of ebook readers is the Kindle. Loved by Alan Partridge, the Kindle is at the heart of a sophisticated ebook ecosystem. Thanks to apps and online service Kindle Cloud Reader you can read a book on your phone, reader and computer and they all remember where you're up to.

On top of that, Amazon is planning a Kindle tablet, perhaps as soon as the end of this year.

But Waterstone's bosses promise a 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." Them's fightin' words.

The Waterstone's reader is scheduled to launch in spring 2012.