Bookshop chain Waterstone's plans to fight back against the growing popularity of online book sellers, by introducing Internet kiosks in its high-street stores.
Waterstone's believes that the move, which it claims will give customers thebenefits of both Internet and bricks and mortar stores, will give it the edge over companies such as Amazon.com.
"It will offer customers access to a cut-down version of the Waterstone's Web site. It will enable them to see whether a book is in stock in the branch, available in another branch, or whether it can be ordered from the Internet site," explained IT director, Ian Newman.
Newman, who unveiled the plans at the Retail Solutions exhibition in Birmingham this week, said the kiosks would help customers to find books quickly, by giving them directions to the right floor and shelf in each store.
"Amazon is a very good Web site and has a very good offering but it can't provide customers with the choices that we can," Newman said. "Most people want a range of services. They want the ambience of a book shop to browse and the flexibility to buy online when they are at home or in the office."
Waterstone's is also looking at selling via digital television and introducing a Wap information service.