WHSmith, the UK newsagent and bookseller, is to launch a range of e-book readers in partnership with a Canadian company called Kobo.
The move mimics the highly successful launch of the Kindle e-reader by online retailer Amazon, and a similar move by US book maker Barns and Noble, which launched its own Nook e-reader in 2009.
Canadian company Kobo will supply the devices, the online book store and the e-books themselves. Devices will start at £89.99, while a touchscreen version, which WHSmith claims will be the first Wi-Fi enabled touchscreen e-reader available in the UK, will cost £109.99.
WHSmith also published preliminary financial results for the year which revealed a 3% drop in revenue to £1.3 billion. Book sales were down 4% year-on-year.
According to a recent report by Futuresource Consulting, the Western European e-book market grew 400% in 2010 to reach 10 million units, and is expected to reach 35 million units this year.
The UK dominates the European e-book market, it found, buying roughly half of all e-books sold in Europe, despite accounting for just 15% of overall book sales.
WHSmith will not only have Amazon’s Kindle to compete with but also Google, which launched its own e-book store in the UK earlier this month. Google has its own challenges, though, primarily that its e-book store does not support the highly-popular Kindle devices.