Waterstones unveiled a partnership with the internet giant Amazon today in a move that will see it offer Kindle e-reading devices through its shops.
Amazon's ultra-low prices have long been blamed for the demise of high street booksellers but Waterstones boss James Daunt said he hoped the digital agreement will "complement and strengthen" the traditional attributes of the shops.
The 30-year-old chain is undergoing a major refurbishment which includes dedicated digital areas, free wi-fi access and new coffee shops. As well as selling Amazon's e-reading device, Waterstones will offer other Kindle digital services.
Mr Daunt said: "At Waterstones, we are committed to improving our bookshops quite radically to offer the best possible book-buying experience.
"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, which has 294 stores in the UK and Ireland, was sold last year by HMV to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53 million.
Amazon chief executive 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."